From AP, Sept. 15:
Cops: Driver using GPS when bus hit NY bridge
SALINA, N.Y. — A double-decker bus driver may have been distracted by his own GPS device when he drove the vehicle into a railroad bridge in central New York, killing four passengers, authorities said Wednesday.
John Tomaszewski, 59, was using a personal GPS receiver with an audio feature when the Megabus rammed the bridge early Saturday, Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said.
Using any GPS device while driving is against company policy, said Don Carmichael, a senior vice president at Coach USA, which operates Megabus. Each bus is equipped with a GPS system that allows the company to track its location, but the device cannot be used by a driver to get directions, he said.
Tomaszewski told investigators he was listening to the GPS system rather than holding it when the 13-foot-1-inch-tall bus failed to clear the bridge’s low-hanging, 10-foot-9-inch span, Walsh said.
Authorities are obtaining a search warrant to see whether the GPS system was programmed when the bus left Philadelphia “or if he programmed it along the route somewhere or once he was looking for the bus station,” Walsh said.
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent an investigator to assist in examining the cause of the crash, spokesman Duane DeBruyne said.
The bus was carrying 29 people, including the driver, when it crashed around 2:30 a.m. on the Onondaga Lakeside Parkway in Salina, a Syracuse suburb. Tomaszewski hit the bridge after making a wrong turn off an interstate highway and was not taking an alternate route to make up time, Walsh said.
Following a number of crashes involving large vehicles hitting overpasses, New York Gov. David Paterson proposed legislation in October that would have required all large commercial trucks to use GPS devices that route them away from restricted roads. The governor’s office did not immediately return a call Wednesday for information on the status of the bill and whether buses were included.
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