Incorrect GPS directions cause semis to become stuck on narrow road

Incorrect GPS directions cause semis to become stuck on narrow road (Image 1)

Incorrect GPS mapping is sending semi-trucks to the opposite end of Wilson County where they are getting stuck and causing possible emergency situations.

It's been happening for months since the new Starbucks distribution center opened off of Highway 840 near Lebanon.

The problem occurs when truck drivers punch in the distribution center's address on their GPS and are diverted nearly 20 miles away on windy roads that are barely wide enough for an SUV.

Wilson County Sheriff's Lieutenant Bob Harrison said his agency has responded to eight stuck big rigs in just four days.

Harrison showed Nashville's News 2 dash cam video that shows a tractor trailer off the road in a ditch.  The truck driver was attempting to get to the Starbucks distribution center when he became stuck after turning onto North Commerce Road.

A sign prohibiting 18-wheelers from turning onto the roadway was damaged in the latest incident, though authorities said the road is scarred from trucks that are too heavy and tow trucks pulling them out of the ditch.

“The road surfaces are being damaged [and] the guard rails are being damaged,” Harrison said, adding, “If you had to get an emergency vehicle in there and the road is blocked with a tractor trailer truck, they have to back track several miles to put the fire out or answer that emergency medical call.”

News 2 has learned the trucks are ending up 20 miles away from their destination because GPS is not registering the address of the distribution center, which is located at 1009 Commerce Way off of 840.

Whenever entering the address into a device, Commerce Road comes up instead of Commerce Way.

Out-of-area truckers who don't know better punch in the address and follow the GPS where they are guided to a narrow, windy road with no way out.  

News 2 spoke with residents on the roadway who said they are tired of the mix-up.

“I called down to Starbucks one day and talked to some gentleman and said, ‘You all are being sorry neighbors,'” long-time resident Allen Smith said.

Resident Roland Fanning said he saw 14 trucks go down his street Monday alone.  He estimates some 900 trucks have passed by since the center opened and that he is afraid someone is going to be killed because of the error.

“Since I have family on four or five houses on this road, I don't want them getting killed,” he said.

By phone, News 2 spoke to Laurel Harper, a spokesperson for Starbucks who said, “At Starbucks, being a good neighbor is important to us.  As soon as we heard about this we communicated with carriers and suppliers to ensure that drivers are using the direct route.  We contacted Google maps to get the correct maps added.”

Harper added there is no timetable for Google to take corrective action. 

TDOT spokesperson BJ Doughty added they have experienced similar problems when new stretches of roadway are completed across the state.

“There is no central source that tracks map changes and distributes information to GPS and mapping companies,” BJ Doughty said.

Starbucks said they are also working closely with the Wilson County Sheriff's office.

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