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back to article UK.gov holds summit to stop satnav-driven smash-ups

The UK's Department of Transport is holding a summit today to try to figure out how to get satnav maps bang up-to-date so drivers don't blithely follow them into disaster. The problem is particularly bad in rural areas, where no end of massive lorries seem to ignore the narrowing of the road they're on in deference to the satnav …

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"However, the main reasons the satnavs cause problems is because it can take months for map updates from local councils to make their way onto the gadgets."

And the rest... What about those who bought the satnav, and then don't sign up (with ££) for a subscription which provides updates?

Anyone that follows a satnav into a river, over a cliff, or down a footpath should be hit with an "Undue care and attention" conviction. A few of those and it's bye bye licence, so they'll either learn to look where they a bl**dy well going, or be removed from our roads. The latter would seem to be for the common good.

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"subscription which provides updates"

How about forcing manufacturers to supply updates free or at a low cost, instead of gouging customers?

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Re: "subscription which provides updates"

sadly the outcome there is either more expensive units initially or "technical difficulties" that will stop any unit older than 3 months being updated.

these guys are not providing a public service, they're selling a product and pleasing their shareholders. Can't see Ford providing free fuel to keep their car running instead of letting the garages rip us off ;)

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Doesn't matter. The updates are imaginary.

I live on a housing estate in a primarily residential area. There are three adequate, completely unique ways to get to my street. There are several hundred houses on the estate.

Yet, anyone trying to navigate to my street will be taken down an unsurfaced dead-end road.

I have tried to kindly advise those who produce the maps to correct the issue. I sent e-mails containing a polite and thorough explanation to every relevant address I could find - this was at least six years ago. Not one even bothered to respond. Today all the maps still contain this error.

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Anonymous Coward

BLAME EVERYONE ELSE BUT YOUSELF...

You are still the driver, you still need to read road signs so if you ignore the signs, ignore the road, ignore what you see with your eyes then maybe you should pay.

A satnav is an aid to navigation just like a paper map.

If you are too stupid to realise this then maybe stop driving.

If the satnav said 'drive over that pedestrian' would you do it?

No don't answer that, some people would.

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Mushroom

Re: "subscription which provides updates"

I agree about the commercial side of things - free would be silly.

However, I could have bought a brand new paper road atlas every year for the past 6 years, and still have change from one single Garmin map update. There seems to be a pendulum effect, or perverse outcome. The more manufaturers try to gouge customers, the less customers want to pay.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't matter. The updates are imaginary.

1. Use TeleAtlas' MapInsight to report it: http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/

TeleAtlas tend to correct it in 3-6 months.

2. If you use TomTom for iPhone, you can correct this with a map correction that you can submit. Or, post it here and we can all pile in and report it.

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Headmaster

@JimmyPage

"However, I could have bought a brand new paper road atlas every year for the past 6 years, and still have change from one single Garmin map update."

In their defence, the road atlases you bought probably wouldn't give you the detailed change that the Garmin map update did. The equivalent analogy would be to buy every town's A-Z every year for the past 6 years. If they start spinning it like that, it might seem more of a bearable pill to swallow.

None of this is relevant though, as a) I agree its too expensive and b) the idea that "satnavs had caused more than £203m worth of damage to drivers on UK roads in the last year" is utter bollox - bad drivers caused it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ... (@Steve Evans)

TomTom has reported a distinct drop in their business for TomTom navigation *HARDWARE*, but their software business, like the iPhone apps, is increasing. And the nice thing about the TomTom app is that you get the following:

1. Free map update every 3 months. Requires new version download.

2. Access to MapShare on the app, where you can submit corrections, and importantly, receive them too! Switch MapShare on in the Advanced settings. Always very useful.

3. Access to MapShare online, where you can submit corrections (requires you to sign up to a MyTomTom account).

TomTom also owns TeleAtlas, and you can use TeleAtlas MapInsight to report corrections as well. No biggie. Seriously.

And I'm with you on the "anyone that (sic) follows a satnav into a river, over a cliff, or down a footpath should be hit with an 'undue care and attention' conviction" opinion. It is still you the driver who is responsible for accidents, not the satnav.

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Re: It is nothing to do with satnav

People used to drive into difficulties before satnav was invented, but it rarely got reported. I know of people that drove into over-deep fords, onto hilltops, and down roads that they were never going to get out of, because they thought they were on a different road on the map, or they didn't have a map and followed a roadsign that "accidentally" pointed the wrong way. I also have a friend who, prior to getting a satnav, was perfectly capable of driving from Blackpool to the Scottish borders whilst trying to get to Birmingham (true story). It would be good to see an estimate of how much money satnav has saved to balance up these "ooohh, technology is bad!" stories.

By the way, with the reduced accuracy of OS maps, they can easily lead you into difficulties too, but no-one mentions that.

It has become popular to blame satnav and the "stupid" drivers that use them, but the "stupid" drivers have been there all the time. An example - for over forty years I used to live in a particular town, in which there is a road with a clearly marked height-limit because of two railway bridges. For as long as I can remember, at least once a month an HGV driver managed to get his lorry stuck under one or other of the bridges ... and that goes back to long before satnav was available.

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Re: "subscription which provides updates"

Re Free Fuel - They might but then that would add ~£32k to the upfront cost of the car.....

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Spend more taxpayers' money

It beats expecting the fool in the cab to look where he or she is going.

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The easiest way is to simply class any accident caused by mindlessly following a satnav as dangerous driving.

Once they can't just use "Oh the woman in the dashboard told me to drive into the river" as an excuse for their idiocy either the number of accidents will fall or the stupidest 1% of drivers will have their licenses revoked.

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jai
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a quicker and simpler alternative might be to insist that there's a minimum IQ required in order to pass the driving test and hold a license.

In fact, that would probably solve a lot of motoring problems, traffic incidents, reduce congestion and generally make the world a nicer place.

Plus, there'd be less idiots on the road in front of me so I can enjoy driving around instead of fearing for my life the whole time.

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IQ is not an indication of driving ability

I've known some people who had a low IQ but were very good drivers.

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MJI
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Seen clever stupid people

Highly clever people who would drive into the river.

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Re: IQ is not an indication of driving ability

Indeed, I usually find it's the drivers who are not paying attention to driving and would rather read a magazine or do their make-up in the rear-view mirror that tend to be the most dangerous on the roads.

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Anonymous Coward

in germany..

They have the idioten schule, if you can't pass your test after three goes you have to attend special lessons and be assessed as to whether there is something wrong with you!

Maybe this should apply.

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Old problem - old solution

ISTR there's (at least one) a small road leading from Cheddar Gorge with a small, old sign warning potential drivers: Not Suitable for Charabancs. It's been nigh-on 30 years since I frequented the area but the problem does seem to pre-date the Satnav era and the solution seems to be simple to implement.

Why not just put up a few more signs?

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Re: Old problem - old solution

Do many charabancs have satnavs?

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Flame

Once again, they're fixing the wrong problem.

"how can we get the maps up to date"?

No, how can you punish the fucktards who follow the idiot box on the dashboard. I reckon if you released a satnav voice that occasionally said 'at the roundabout, punch yourself repeatedly in the face" it would at least provide some entertainment for other road users...

"However, the main reasons the satnavs cause problems is because....."

<deep breath> and relax...

Hey, I've got a 1988 road map of the UK, presumably if I drive the wrong way down a road that wasn't there when the map was printed, it's the maps fault? I demand that my map is updated on a monthly basis for free!

Hmm, perhaps the admiralty should take over all mapping from the ordnance survey... ;-)

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Foreign lorries

So, a foreign trucker is driving his load to a destination in the back of beyond. He has no local knowledge, and relies on eyesight and sat-nav. Sees a road sign showing maximum width, height or length marked only in feet and inches. Doesn't mentally compute that 6'8" is narrower than his lorry, which he only knows in metres, and is only recorded in metres on the dimensions plate in the cab.

There's a lot to be said for having metric measurements on such road signs. Maximum weight was metricated on UK road signs decades ago, but they left the height/width/length ones as imperial only for far too long. Make them dual units to cater for the luddites who still don't know what a metre is after over four decades.

Do that, and make the signed vehicle restictions (speed,length,width,height etc) freely available in a standard data format for anyone to implement in satnavs, and you've got a simple win.

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Vic
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Re: Foreign lorries

> Doesn't mentally compute that 6'8" is narrower than his lorry, which he only knows in metres

So if I drive to the Continent, they'll put all their signs in feet and inches, will they? Because I only know the dimensions of my van in imperial units.

It is a driver's responsibility to ensure he can interpret such signs. When I started driving in France, I saw many signs that said "priorite a droite". I also saw white diamonds with a yellow border. Did the French molly-coddle me? Of course they didn't. It was *my* responsibility to work out what those signs meant.

Vic.

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Re: Foreign lorries

If he can't see that the road is physically unsuitable for his lorry, he's not likely to see the signs either.

I don't recall any of the metric countries putting feet and inches on their signs for the benefit of UK lorry drivers.

Maybe some of the villages affected by this could have large signs in eastern european languages saying "GO AWAY" - or words to that effect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Foreign lorries

"So if I drive to the Continent, they'll put all their signs in feet and inches, will they? Because I only know the dimensions of my van in imperial units."

Oh for fuck sake...Dr Whos gone and kidnapped me and left me in 1971 again...

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Re: Foreign lorries

If they are capable of understanding speed limits in MPH then they are capable of knowing what the width of their own vehicle is in feet and inches. It's a single figure and not going to be difficult to remember and easy to compare.

Why should a penny more be spent catering for drivers that don't know basic details about their own vehicle and that should not be on the road to start with? If you're going to drive on the road then being expected to know how to use them safely should not be unreasonable, regardless of where you're from.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Foreign lorries

New signs that are put up ARE in meters, or have both imperial or metric measurements.

The issue occurs when the lorry gets towards the smaller towns with the less well maintained roads that still have the old signs in feet and inches only...They've been reading signs from the port in meters so why would they assume the next one is any different?

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Re: Re: Foreign lorries

By the time the vehicle has reached the point where the road is too narrow it is too late. Advice is needed before entering the road, maybe several km before the restriction is apparent.

As to the continued use of imperial units on UK roads; that is just perverse. The UK agreed to go metric in 1973. Since then all engineering etc. ha been metric. Maps are metric, houses, kitchen appliances, and the temperature are specified in metric units. The continuation of dual systems should be relegated to history, there is no rationality in making life arbitrarily difficult.

But why the French changed from driving on the left to the right can only be put down to perfidy!

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Re: Foreign lorries

But how many countries in the world still use imperial units for road signs? There's the UK, the USA, and that's about it. Ireland switched to metric a few years back.

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Re: Foreign lorries

I kind of see your point. But the problem is that we haven't yet stopped thinking in imperial for quite a few types of measurement.

For example: can you honestly say you already know your own height in metric units?

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Happy

Re: Foreign lorries @Matthew 3

1.80m

But then I do not live in Blighty

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Re: Foreign lorries

No just idiot truckers.

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Re: Foreign lorries

Yes I do, and I know my weight in kg. However, I seem to be pretty much along among the natives here in that respect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Foreign lorries

And villages have! That's one of the reasons for this summit... to allow local councils, including parish councils and town councils, to have less red tape when putting up signs to stop drivers from going through those villages.

At the moment it's a bloody drama (because the district council, the county council, the Highways Agency, and every person with interest need to have their say about it), and it then needs to be propagated.

I've seen several signs on my routes before saying "NOT SUITABLE FOR HGV" or "LOCAL ACCESS ONLY", or "NO HGV SATNAV ACCESS" in rather large letters.

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FAIL

"Last month, Confused.com said that satnavs had caused more than £203m worth of damage to drivers on UK roads in the last year, with 83 per cent of 2,000 survey respondents admitting to the site that they'd been misled by their soothingly voiced machines."

No, drivers blindly following their satnavs rather than using their eyes caused more than £203m worth of damage.

Why is it that drivers are never blamed when something goes wrong? The driver operates the vehicle, and is therefore the responsible party.

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Devil

Kind'a

I would usually agree with you. Usually...

However, in this particular case the satnav manufacturers are guilty as charged.

I had an entertaining dialogue with the manufacturer of my SatNav software for Android 3 months ago. I pointed to them that their routing algorithm is suboptimal because it _ALWAYS_ assigns any route which is not clearly marked as 60mph and does not differentiate between un-classified road, B-road and A-road. So if you are navigating around the periphery of a town it regularly gives you instructions to drive out of town, turn on a country lane, use it to drive around and go back in town again.

I was told to that they are not changing their algo and not offering any means to tune it. By the way - the same guys write the integrated truck handling + SatNav for some of the biggest Eu logistics companies.

This leads to an interesting conclusion. It does not matter how many times would the council reclassify their roads. THAT WILL BE IGNORED. It is presently not a customer requirement and the SatNav companies do not give a damn.

In fact, based on tests with the trial versions and one commercial version most SatNav software for Android fails on this one - including Google's own.

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FAIL

Remember the Blackadder gag about fitting wheels to a tomato ?

"Time consuming and totally pointless"

My satnav is perfectly functional, albeit 4 years old. Along with it's maps, which I will not pay £70 to update. I suspect a vast majority of drivers are in a similar position. This pow wow could cure cancer, and find Lord Lucan riding Shergar, but if people don't update their maps, then they are wasting their time.

How come, I could by a new printed road atlas for (say) £10, yet the same information as a download is £70 ?

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Re: Remember the Blackadder gag about fitting wheels to a tomato ?

Reason you pay £70 for a download is that you're (as a group) happy to pay that. It's a luxury item and thus the price is totally unrelated to the cost. Marketing 101. Sorry.

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WTF?

Re: Remember the Blackadder gag about fitting wheels to a tomato ?

"How come, I could by a new printed road atlas for (say) £10, yet the same information as a download is £70 ?"

Perhaps because a £10 printed road atlas will not have street-level map coverage for every city, town, and village in the UK - let alone continental Europe.

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Minor correction...

"Last month, Confused.com said that satnavs had caused more than £203m worth of damage to drivers on UK roads in the last year, with 83 per cent of 2,000 survey respondents admitting to the site that they'd been misled by their soothingly voiced machines."

Should read:

"Last month, Confused.com said that stupid drivers had caused more than £203m worth of damage on UK roads in the last year, with 83 per cent of 2,000 survey respondents admitting to the site that they were too stupid to apply any common sense to the instructions from their soothingly voiced machines."

I use a sat nav all the time. It is a guide only, and I look up directions first to make sure I have a rought idea of where I am going. If it tells me to go the wrong way down a one way road (or similar) I ignore it. If the instructions don't match what I remember from looking it up myself, I pull over and make sure. A little common sense goes a long way. I am often told I have no common sense, but I have more than these numpties!

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Meh

In exchange for personal data

I get updates, thanks GOOG

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Anonymous Coward

Not too long now...

... and we'll see signs and traffic updates and such broadcast to the boxes. That, or the things get fitted with cameras and smarts to recognise roadsigns. Wonder which'll happen first.

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Anonymous Coward

Simple Solution....

Don't let women drive :)

See here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39qdhbkTko4

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Big Brother

So who in the ministry has shares in Satnav companies?

I expect some legislation that you have to buy the updates in the near future..

/cynical.

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Stop

"Last month, Confused.com said that satnavs had caused more than £203m worth of damage to drivers on UK roads in the last year"

The SatNavs did THAT! So it wasn't idiot drivers who replaced their common sense with a small LCD screen that may shout out directions in various comical voices?

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Well

I dont know about you, but i'm certainly not going to argue with Brian Blessed!

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"However, the main reasons the satnavs cause problems is because it can take months for map updates from local councils to make their way onto the gadgets."

And yet I'm still using a 2001 AA road atlas and haven't once driven over a cliff or down a footpath, or across the grassed-over former route of a now diverted road.

Updating the mapping data doesn't seem to be the main problem: it's getting people to use some common sense rather than blindly rely on technology.

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There are a lot of people that cannot read maps ...

... so it doesn't matter what atlas, or how up-to-date it is, they will still get into difficulties in the same way they always did. Unless, of course, people who can't read maps are more likely to drive off their usual routes. I know several people who only used to drive two or three routes (home > work/shop/relative), but who now go for trips out relying on the satnav to get them there and back.

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Devil

SatNav's

Anybody that would ignore, road signs aka the real world over the SatNav directions. Should be banned for life from driving!

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