Sen. Blumenthal urges GPS app upgrades to prevent truck accidents on truck-prohibited roads

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal is urging tech companies to do more to keep tractor-trailers off the Merritt Parkway and other roads where they are not allowed.

The Merritt Parkway was built 80 years ago. It's meant for passenger cars only, but truck drivers are often led by their GPS navigation apps to the truck-restricted road.

"They don't realize that the Merritt becomes a road to nowhere if they get stuck under the overpass," Sen. Blumenthal said on Monday.

Sen. Blumenthal, along with New York Sen. Charles Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, wrote a letter to GPS navigation apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze to implement software to alert truck drivers of the roads they are banned from.

State police says trucks on the Merritt and the Wilbur Cross parkways are a safety hazard. When a truck gets stuck under the overpass, traffic can be backed up for miles, which poses a risk for more accidents.

Some collisions have been fatal.

According to the DOT, 150 trucks have struck the King Street Bridge in Greenwich in the last decade. In 2018, 24 strikes happened at that crossing.

The Merritt Parkway Conservancy says it wrote letters to the GPS navigation apps a year ago.

"Gotten responses that it's just not their problem, it's our problem," said the Conservancy’s Wes Haynes and added that some providers didn't respond at all.

Repair damage to the overpasses can come from taxpayer dollars.

"There's a rather large dollar figure that's attached to the hits and the damage that's caused," said Bill Morrison of the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Sen. Blumenthal hopes for a positive response from the tech companies to ensure safer roads for all drivers.

Right now, a truck driver on the Merritt could be issued a $92 ticket. The House approved increasing that amount to $500, but it did not pass in the Senate.

Sen. Blumenthal says better signage might help, but it will not fix the problem.

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