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Blumenthal Demands Tech Companies Upgrade GPS Apps After Trucks Hit Overpasses

Truck drivers have told police that because of following Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps navigation apps, they have hit bridges—causing damage and delays

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, again called on Big Tech companies Google and Apple to upgrade their popular GPS apps Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps to provide height and weight restrictions to commercial drivers. Low bridges, including those on the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkway, are frequently struck by truck drivers and other large vehicles when drivers use GPS apps designed with passenger vehicles in mind. Although truck-specific smartphone navigation applications already exist to help truck drivers avoid restrictions like low bridges and other commercial vehicle prohibitions, they often require subscriptions to provide the information, limiting their usage.

“These applications are widely used by truckers and delivery drivers, but they lack vital information on road restrictions including reduced height clearance, vehicle weight limits on bridges, and prohibitions on the transport of hazardous material – omissions that pose significant risks to commercial vehicle drivers and to all drivers on our roads,” wrote Blumenthal to Avi Bar, Head of Public Policy for Waze and Maps at Google. A similar letter was sent to Apple. “I urge you to take swift action to implement clear and timely warnings and notifications to commercial vehicle drivers about restrictions on their route. As more commercial vehicle drivers use smartphone-based navigation applications and no action is taken, I fear these accidents and damages to roadways will continue.”

Truck drivers have told police they have hit bridges after following these apps, which resulted in severe damages and long traffic delays. One bridge on the Merritt Parkway has been struck nearly 150 times over the past decade. Yesterday, Blumenthal held a press conference in New Haven, with Connecticut State Police and the Wes Haynes—Merritt Parkway Conservancy to call attention to this issue, which damages infrastructure and causes massive traffic delays. In January 2020, Blumenthal, along with U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) sent letters to Google and Apple, calling on the tech companies to upgrade their GPS applications, but the companies have not yet acted.

“State and local transportation departments have already installed warning devices such as signs and flashing lights to alert drivers to roadway restrictions,” Blumenthal continued. “It is critical to integrate these warnings and notifications into widely-available navigation applications as well.”

The full text of the letter to Google can be found here. The letter to Apple can be found here.