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Sen. Hannon calls for mandating 'commercial' GPS for charter buses

The proposal follows an April 8 accident involving a coach bus full of students on the Southern State Parkway in which State Police said the driver was using a GPS meant for passenger cars.

New York Sen. Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City,

New York Sen. Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City, right, speaks during a Senate Session at the state Capitol Friday, March 30, 2018, in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

ALBANY — In the aftermath of a bus crash on the Southern State Parkway, a Long Island senator has introduced a bill requiring charter buses to use a certain type of global positioning system device to keep them off restricted highways.

Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) said the measure would mandate that bus drivers use a “commercial” GPS that gives warnings about restricted highways, low bridges and alternate routes.

The proposed bill was spurred by a State Police investigation that showed the driver of a coach bus full of students that struck an overpass on the parkway April 8 was using a “noncommercial vehicle” GPS — that is, one meant for passenger cars — that routed him onto the Southern State. The bus smashed into a low bridge at Eagle Avenue, shearing off the bus’ roof. Two 17-year-olds were seriously injured, five passengers were moderately injured and three dozen others suffered minor injuries.

“There have been too many instances, such as the one that recently occurred in Long Island, where charter buses have hit an overpass due to the lack of using a GPS made for commercial use, which divert drivers to safe routes,” Hannon said in a statement. “The tragic accident that occurred on Southern State Parkway could have been prevented if this bus had utilized commercial GPS technology.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Assemb. Michael G. DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst), importantly giving it a supporter in the political majority of either house at the State Capitol.

In 2009, then-Gov. David Paterson proposed a new law very similar to Hannon’s proposal. But it failed because of issues involving restricting interstate commerce and compelling out-of-state drivers to use the devices, according to the Trucking Association of New York.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration wrote to insurers urging companies to encourage commercial drivers to use global positioning systems that give warnings about restricted highways, low bridges and alternate routes. But the administration stopped short of calling for a new law.

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