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Semi driver crushes antique bridge, with GPS to blame
by Dan Brawner Columnist · May 18th, 2017

Last Friday, a semi-trailer carrying grain and weighing 30 tons headed onto the Daleys Bridge on the Upper Iowa River, east of Cresco. And squished it. This should not have come as a complete surprise to the unnamed driver because the 100-year-old bridge had a posted weight limit of three tons, excluding any vehicle heavier than a full-sized pickup. The driver presumably saw the warning sign, but explained to authorities that he was only following the directions on his GPS. (Lucky for him, his GPS didn't tell him to drive into the Pacific Ocean.) Estimates for the repair are expected to be in the range of $900,000.

It appears that the demise of the Daleys Bridge was the result of misplaced faith. As the driver approached the bridge, the sign told him not to cross because, doing the mental math, a three-ton limit, minus the 30 tons of his truck equals - well, not much room for error. Since the state of Iowa does not issue commercial licenses to drivers who are stone blind, the truck driver probably noticed that the bridge was old and rickety and in desperate need of repair. But what is he going to believe - his lying eyes or his GPS?

There is an old expression: "Signs are for thems what reads." Such folks figure laws that are inconvenient for them apply only to those weak-minded elites who wrote them and not to free-thinking individuals such as themselves. In this era of de-regulation, defying government guidelines is regarded as a kind of heroism. Maybe the Daleys Bridge destroyer imagined himself to be an anarchist like Guy Fawkes or Che Guevara, sticking it to "the man" every chance he got. Or maybe he saw himself as a kind of Indiana Jones who could beat the odds and fly over the antique structure as it collapsed dramatically behind him.

Libertarian valor aside, logic and self-preservation might suggest that certain guidelines would be to the benefit of the end users. Take deer stands, for example. Deer stands are made for rugged individuals who do not shy away from the cold or climbing trees or blasting unsuspecting four-footed vegetarians with shotguns. Yet, even a deer stand has a weight limit. A large hunter might gravitate toward the Summit Goliath for $319. It is sturdy, camouflaged, and attractive in a manly way. But even the Goliath has a weight limit of 350 pounds. A hunter larger than that would have to ignore the warning to his own peril, and that of the deer, unwary hikers and, of course, the tree.

Bicycles have weight limits. Anybody wishing to lose weight by riding a bike might find they have to lose some weight before riding a bike. A 24-inch Huffy mountain bike, for example, has a weight limit of 250 pounds. Because a 400-pound cyclist hurtling down a mountain would be in serious danger of burning out his brakes, blowing out a tire or getting mistaken for a Sasquatch.

Baby car seats have weight limits. A Safety 1st All-in-One backward-facing seat has a limit of 80 pounds. Any bigger than that and you're just kidding yourself. That person in the car seat isn't your little baby anymore. Face it. He doesn't need a special car seat - he needs his own car. Preferably one with a GPS.
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