SATELLITE NAVIGATION: looking at the problem and its solution?
With the introduction of satellite navigation systems (sat-nav) in motor vehicles has come the blight of extra traffic in rural villages. The nature of traffic that uses rural roads has changed to include large commercial vehicles. Before sat-nav road users used road maps or atlases to plan journeys. Apart from Ordnance survey maps that are suitable for walkers and serve the needs of local people rural roads, lanes, were not included. Drivers naturally used the most appropriate roads. And unless they were locals they had no knowledge of the smaller roads.
There is a place for delivery vehicles including tradesman's "white" vans in rural roads as they go about their business making use of their knowledge of local roads systems to get from one place to another without wasting time and fuel. But there is no good reason, in my opinion, for other drivers to use rural roads, although they have the right to do so. A vehicle with sat-nav is provided with detailed mapping and directions to get from one location to another. The sat-nav device uses software that provides a route with graphic information and verbal instructions which a driver may decide to follow. Even cars become a nuisance if they are just taking the shortest route from one place to another, especially when they try to follow that shortest route at a breakneck speed!
When a thirty-eight ton vehicle gets stuck in a narrow country road because the driver has been following sat-nav directions there is clearly something that has gone wrong. Whilst Freshford village has not had to deal with a vehicle that large it has had damage to the Freshford Mill bridge and also a thirty ton lorry with concrete beams stuck in the same Mill bridge location as the bridge has a three ton weight limit as well. The smallest lane in Freshford is Ashes lane and large vehicles have been using that lane and causing damage to residents cottages by a sharp bend.
Adding suitable signs to roads that are unsuitable for through traffic, lorries and heavy goods vehicles should help but I feel that only legislation will help to resolve this situation.
The first thing to note is that the English word "lane" means "a narrow road in the country". Since Sat Nav systems should have the names of all the roads on their systems it should be relatively simple to exclude roads that have the name "lane" and possibly "hill" as well. Roads are also classified and I can't see why routes cannot be restricted to classified roads for certain types of vehicle.
Unfortunately, nearly all roads in Freshford are "lanes". Rosemary lane for example is actually the steepest "hill" in the area - except for the road down to Avoncliff. Yet Rosemary lane is not called a "hill". I can fully understand NAVTEQ and sat-nav companies being reluctant to alter their databases in the face of this nonsense! For NAVTEQ et al road names are unreliable. The Ordnance Surevey should have the necessary data, but if not, why not ?
Second, If it is an offence for a certain type of vehicle to use some types of road then surely the Sat Nav provider by providing instructions to use those roads is conspiring a person to break the law. I would have thought that the sat-nav software should warn the driver that the route contains roads that are unsuitable for his or her vehicle.
Third, whilst I do not have the skill to modify the software that sat-navs use I would have thought that it is possible to include, if there isn't already, a parameter to input the type of vehicle. That information could be used to filter unsuitable roads from the generated best route.
Are TeleAtlas, TomTom, Garmin, NAVTEQ and other sat-nav mapping providers breaking the law? and if they aren't maybe the legislation should be enacted to determine that they are, if they can't exclude unsuitable roads from their instructions to drivers of lorries and other commercial large vehicles. Are the companies by providing instructions, without warnings, inciting drivers to break the law? Since Incitement has been replaced by three new offences, what may be applicable is this one: "Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence". The sat-nav provider has the information (knows full well) that for certain types of vehicle, certain types of roads (and areas of the countryside) if entered by that vehicle would break the a law. Surely, by NOT warning the driver that to use that route would result in the driver breaking a law the sat-nav provider is Encouraging or Assisting an Offence? Or in plain English these companies know that part of the routes they depict are unsuitable for commercial lorries so should warn the driver.
One company can provide a solution for trucks and lorries and has done it: The Syrius S2000 PROLINE with TRUCKMATE. The first portable satellite navigation system to include dedicated routing designed specifically for trucks and large vehicles such as coaches, buses and mobile homes. Include FREE TMC traffic information updates. From: http://www.snooper.co.uk/snooper-s2000-truckmate.htm Why can't the others do the same? For links about incidents that were due to sat-nav use see