back to article Satnav mishap misery cure promised at confab

Ever get that sinking feeling after your satnav misdirects your car into a ditch? Relax, the government is wading in to help stressed-out drivers get more accurate information from the road-mapping devices. A summit will kick off in March ahead of local authorities being given more powers to have a bigger say about how their …


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  1. Tom Chiverton 1

    If the makers made it cost less than the cost of a new sat nav to update it, that might help things...

    1. James 139

      Part of the problem is how much the base maps cost to licence, unless theyre spending time making their own, and also adding features and additional information, but I agree, every sat nav maker should be legally required to provide free, or at least cheap (as in £10 a year), map updates.

      Somewhat unrealistically I also hope they decide to make it an offence to "blindly follow a Sat Nav", seeing as "driving without due care and attention" doesnt seem suitable enough.

      1. Grease Monkey

        "Somewhat unrealistically I also hope they decide to make it an offence to "blindly follow a Sat Nav", seeing as "driving without due care and attention" doesnt seem suitable enough."

        Actually most sat navs do carry a warning to that effect. The police however seem to find it easier to blame the satnav than the driver. Blaming the satnav results in a lot less paper work than blaming the driver. Like the idiot near us who somehow drove down a public footpath and almost over a cliff before having to be rescued. Presumably he didn't realise the satnav had got things wrong until the point where he called for help. For some reason though he wasn't prosecuted.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Jesus F. Christ!

        "every sat nav maker should be legally required to provide free, or at least cheap (as in £10 a year), map updates"

        Well, FU too.

        The big problem with socialists is that, at some point in time, they run out of other people's money.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Maps are not that expensive...

      ... Most of the new devices allow you to update the maps at a reasonable price, and if you use something like an iPhone app, the map is included in the app update for... *FREE*.

      If you have a device from circa 2001 and it has been obsolete for 6 years, don't expect the map provider to continue to support it. It is *obsolete* for a reason.

      1. ibutsu

        I've seen one Sony GPS that charged over $100 to update the map...

    3. Grease Monkey

      Actually most sat nav companies have got a lot better with respect to map upgrade pricing. And don't forget of course that with many devices you are not restricted to the OEM when buying new maps. The competition has certainly lowered prices.

      And even Binatone now allow you to buy an SD card with new maps rather than posting the device back to them to be updated.

      One thing which can be irritating is finding that updated maps are NLA for your particular device. Not nice for a device that cost several hundred pounds only a few years ago. Yes I know it's often possible to get maps for other devices and load them with the aid of an SD card or similar, but the average punter doesn't know this and the OEM is unlikely to tell them if there is a chance of selling a replacement device. And then there are those devices for whom the manufacturer (normally just a rebadger) no longer exists.

      1. JohnG Silver badge

        Map updates

        Last year, I paid 80 Euros (I live in Germany but the UK price was equivalent) for a combined update package which gave me:

        New version of the nav software

        Latest maps for all of Europe

        2 years subscription for map updates

        License for TMCpro

        That didn't seem so expensive. Part of the problem is that the sort of drivers who think their sat nav is responsible if they choose to drive into a river are unlikely to consider that they may hold any responsibility for map updates, electronic or paper.

        If the councils and government really gave a shit about this, they could be providing a free basic TMC service, as in France and Germany. That would allow them to show roads as blocked or restricted until the nav manufacturers catch up.

    4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Shop around then

      My 7 year old Garmin Street thingy C510 map update for this year cost £30 from Garmin on an sd plonk in and walla.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        My wife's Garmin i3 is apparently obsolete ...

        ... and so there are no updates, according to Garmin themselves, a decision that is difficult to justify - the updates are available over the internet, therefore it is not difficult to turn a new map into an existing format.

        Manufacturers are creating the map-update problem through trying to shore up flagging profits by trying to get people to buy new units. They failed here, though, because, having just learned how to use the thing (after only five years - something of a speed record), my wife will not buy a new one, and I use the satnav on my Nokia phone, which is free to update and very, very good.

  2. Daf L

    These Sat Navs have brought all these problems...

    It used to be that you bought a UK wide road atlas (From John Menzies or your local service station) and every 2 weeks you'd get sent a new one through the post with all the updates from the UK local authorities for that week.

    They would kindly mark on the updated atlas, with a red cross, every road that they didn't wish you to use and also place warnings on there telling you all the risks for using certain roads or if they were close to cliffs or liable to flood.

    However, since sat navs have come out, the updates now take months and the user has no possible way of telling which roads are suitable for their vehicle. They are no longer allowed to ignore directions if it becomes obvious that the route is not suitable and have been forced (I think by legislation?) to obey the directions it gives.

    Modern technology is always creating these backwards steps.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      The problem

      is people have stopped thinking.

      People who used to drive long distances now won't drive to the local supermarket without turning on the satnav.

      I still use post-it notes, they are much more accurate, people generally don't move large cities, so I am generally safe. I then just look at the road signs.

      My old Mondeo had a built-in SatNav, but the annual update cost over 300€. Given that I probably used the thing once a year, I never bothered updating the maps.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        "I still use post-it notes, they are much more accurate"

        No, they are as accurate as the information you put on them, otherwise they are just pieces of coloured sticky paper.

        I use both - I never start on a journey where I will need the satnav without having a very good idea of where it will take me, and I always carry at least two road atlases (one very large scale, one small) in the car where I can reach them. However, satnav is good for telling me where I am and what the junction looks like (I have done a motor club navigational event using one, when my navigator didn't turn up). The one I have on my phone also does live traffic updates and reroutes, something that is very difficult to work out when on a motorway with no-one else in the car.

        Sometimes, if I know where I am going, I'll put the satnav on to see if there is a better route than the one I take. This isn't often the case, since satnav doesn't take into account really shitty junctions that I avoid like the plague, but sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised.

        Don't eschew technology on principle.People used to get lost, which alone caused problems with accidents and people getting stuck up inappropriate routes (this isn't a new problem caused by satnav, and it is disingenuous to suggest that it is). Overall, satnav is causing fewer, rather than more, problems.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's not the satnav at fault. It's the human blithely following the satnav that's at fault.

      As drivers who use satnavs, we abrogate any responsibility for making decisions, or actually being responsible drivers by reading the road signs. If the road sign says "NO U-TURNS" and the satnav tells you to make one, it is *YOUR* responsibility to override the satnav and continue to a point where you *ARE* allowed to make a U-TURN.

      You will find that traffic officers do not take kindly to the "oh, but my satnav told me to do it" excuse.

      1. Grease Monkey

        Actually I've never yet come across a case of a driver in the UK being prosecuted for following their satnav. Too much paperwork.

        Anyhow the satnavs I'm used to don't advise uturns. They tend to make you take a few lefts then a right or similar to get you heading back in the other direction.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          The satnavs I've tried constantly bitch at me to make u-turns. Every single one I've tried wants me to drive off the side of a bridge onto a grade-separated road that runs underneath. When I refuse to do this, they start bitching at me for going the wrong way.

      2. Annihilator


        I suspect you missed the heavy dose of sarcasm in the original post, try reading it again with that in mind :-) Unless there really has been legislation brought in recently that forces drivers to unquestioningly follow satnav directions that I've missed of late!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err some corrections..

      Here in the states, the AAA used to do that when you were planning a long trip. Bottom line, long before sat nav came along, it got too expensive...

      With respect to maps...

      1) companies like NAVTEQ have a small fleet of cars which are equipped with LIDAR and GPS, when the roads change, it takes time to schedule a car to drive the road again. So you can see a highway get built and opened, but not see it on the map until 3to6 months later.

      2) map makers used to compile and ship updates on a quarterly basis. This is changing.

      3) road data contains the type of roads and what category of vehicles are allowed to drive on that road.

      4) devices now sell with a lifetime of free map upgrades. :-)

      Just some of the facts.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "help prevent "misery" for lorry drivers who follow satnav directions and end up stuck in narrow roads."

    Any truck driver who does that without checking (and often also after ignoring the width, weight and maybe height restriction road signs) is just being daft, and they, or their employers, should pay for any costs incurred.

    More significant to more people in many parts of the UK is the *intentional* routine and repeated chaos caused by the likes of Tesco who insist on using the same 40+ tonne five-axle artics to deliver to tiny Tesco Express shops on narrow streets with limited access and nowhere to park/reverse safely as they use to deliver to the legacy Tescos.

    You don't need a 40+ tonne artic to deliver eggs, milk, and bread every day to the modern replacement for the corner shoppe.

    Every little truck helps.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Not just width and height restriction signs - we have "LOW BRIDGE DO NOT FOLLOW SAT NAV" signs leading to a very low bridge, with no turning space and yet still have Lorries have to reverse back up the 2 miles to the first sign and the turning point!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ben Tasker

        You should put your sign up at the bottom of the road beside the bridge saying "A big HI to all those lorry drivers who ignored the sign 2 miles back. Have fun reversing all the way there"

    2. Slartybardfast

      Commercial Sat Nav

      I've had some dealings n this area and specialist mapping foe trucks etc is certainly available. These have a database of all height, width and tonnage restrictions and also often come with a service contract to update the database. The problem is that your standard Lithuanian haulage firm/driver cannot afford them or just can't be arsed to get them. They buy the standard version instead that are aimed at car drivers and blithely follow them. Many truck drivers cannot speak or read english, therefore putting signs up saying "LOW BRIDGE, DO NOT USE SAT NAV" have no effect whatsoever on these drivers.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        I've been saying for some time that it should be an endorsable offence to use a car satnav in a truck.

      2. ChrisC

        "Many truck drivers cannot speak or read english, therefore putting signs up saying "LOW BRIDGE, DO NOT USE SAT NAV" have no effect whatsoever on these drivers."

        If they paid more attention to the almost universally recognisable height/width restriction signs that require only the ability to read numbers and figure out which way the arrow heads are pointing, the locals wouldn't need to erect additional signs...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Alternatively, just prop up the bridges with some stilts :)

        2. rhydian


          The problem is that not all width/height restrictions are dual signed in imperial and metric measurements. Your average Eastern European wagon driver hasn't a clue what 6' 6" on a sign means, but will understand 2.0 m.

          1. ChrisC

            Then it's their responsibility to learn what they mean, especially given how widely used imperial measurements are on UK road signage - this isn't some obscure difference between the UK and rest-of-EU rules of the road, this is almost as fundamental as the difference between driving on the left or the right...

            The point is, the signage itself doesn't require any language skills to interpret and it's pretty much universally recognisable as a height/width restriction warning, so once you know the scaling factor to apply you're good to go. UK drivers who head across the channel are expected to know that speed limits are posted in kph rather than mph, and that blatting down the motorway at nearly 200kph just because the signs say you can do "120" is likely to draw your attention to the local plod. So why expect anything less from mainland drivers - particularly ones who do it for a living - who cross the channel in the opposite direction?

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge

            The average driver of whatever ethnicity and intelligence

            will understand the stout iron bar at the start of the road, set at about the height of the underpass two miles on.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Many truck drivers cannot speak or read english,"

        I'm the AC who made the first comment about signs being ignored.

        I'm pleased to see that others have already pointed out that most of the relevant signs are language independent, and many of them even work in metric.

        If so called "professional" drivers are not capable of understanding the signs in a country where their employment takes them, maybe there should be different regulatory requirements before they are allowed in?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > You don't need a 40+ tonne artic to deliver eggs, milk, and bread every day to the modern replacement for the corner shoppe.

      May I ask what you base that assertion on? Logistics is quite an industry in itself and I would not think Tesco are the sort not to ask how their money is spent. That same artic might have spent the whole day delivering stuff than would have taken an entire fleet of vans to replace with.

    4. Wize

      It would help...

      ...if you could put your satnav into 'lorry' mode.

      I've hired a camper van and ignored it when it tried telling me to go down narrow roads.

      1. Graham Marsden


        It would help if people could put their brains into "On" mode and look at all those road signs saying "Low Bridge" or "Width Restriction" etc which the Highways Agency have kindly put there to warn them of potential problems ahead, instead of just blindly following the Sat Nav...

        1. Wize

          @Graham Marsden


          I'm not talking about blindly following the satnav.

          I'm talking about the satnav not planing a route through the low bridge, thus not requiring the driver to stop, put an avoid on their satnav for the road just ahead and then wait for it to calculate the detour round the low bridge.

          Or the satnav not planing a route along single track roads for caravan drivers who find it tricky to get into smaller passing places, without them, again having to stop, place an avoid on the map, wait for new route and add another 20 miles on to their trip in the hope this route does not have single track roads too.

          All well and good suggesting people need to turn their brains on, but how does that help the route planning when all you can see is a dead end ahead?

          No wonder some lorry drivers think 'fuck it', rub some butter on their lorry and force it through the narrow gap when they have no idea how many alternative routes they will have to try, and how long it will take, before they find a non-narrow/low one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            I have to post this anon for some obvious reasons...

            First someone talked about 'commercial grade' sat nav.

            It used to be that Navteq had a separate map product for truck guidance which would contain all of the major roads and the data relevant to big rig navigation.

            They have since combined this data in to a single comprehensive map. When you look at your sat navs today, they will have car and pedestrian guidance. So you can take your sat nav out of the car and walk the city and still get some accurate directions.

            The point is that the raw map data is still there.

            Its up to the sat nav companies as to what data they want to expose and how. So you can see some sat nav providers not making available the truck information so that truckers have to buy specialized devices.

            If your lorry driver isn't using the right type of gear, then he's a twat.

            1. Wize

              @AC 20:11

              Yep the special lorry ones are expensive. Which makes it annoying when you have a car sat nav and might hire a campervan once or twice in your life. No way a user could ever justify it for personal use for the odd occasions.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "you ... might hire a campervan once or twice in your life. "

                Ask the campervan people nicely if they'll rent you a suitable truckstyle one? I mean I know it won't be as familiar as the one you normally use, but it's an incremental revenue opportunity for them...

    5. jonathanb Silver badge

      I guess Pestco send the same lorry round all 12 (13 from Feb) Express stores in my town as it is cheaper than sending 12 transit vans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "cheaper than sending 12 transit vans."

        So change the rules, especially for companies with large fleets of multi-drop deliveries.

        The short run round-town delivery market (your 14 Tesco Expresses and others) is a perfect target for electric Transit-class vehicles. Lucas/Bedford did one in the 1970s. LDV did a LithiumIon one a few years ago before Mandelson refused them a loan and they went bust. The technology is here, the motivation to use it isn't, especially not while the logistics operators can get away with one man operated five-axle artics reversing out of car parks on to narrow roads.

        In fact why not just bring back Red Ken's GLC HGV ban, except done properly and not just for London. No road-damaging [1] chaos-causing unsafe HGVs on roads that were never designed for them, unless there is absolutely no alternative and they have a dispensation in advance (dispensations available by personal application only, by the driver in question, and dispensations expiring every few weeks).

        The cost of these unnecessary and unwanted HGV-class vehicles also includes things like this:

        In sympathy. It didn't need to happen. And nor do the vast majority of truck-vs-bike accidents. But they do, because we let them.

        [1] road damage caused by vehicles goes up by, very roughly, the fourth power of the axle load (aka axle weight). Cars cause a bit of damage. Bikes don't. A 2ton car with twice the axle load of a 1ton car causes two^four ie 16 times the amount of damage as the lighter car. A 40 ton five axle truck has an axle load of 8 tons(ish), so causes massively more road damage than the two ton car. It varies a bit if the suspension is better than usual (eg trucks with decent air suspension cause less damage than similar trucks with legacy suspension). All this is not my opinion, this is documented fact, go read about it. Or just look at the mess in the road in the spot immediately behind a random bus stop, where all the HGVs stopping/starting behind buses wreck the road (cars and light vans just don't have that effect).

        The cost of that excess damage from unwanted HGVs is picked up not by Salvesen, Dentressangle, Tesco, etc but by the local ratepayer, who currently has no say in whether those vehicles are locally permitted or not. Well "no taxation without representation" makes sense to me.

        1. Aldous

          the more you know....

          i used to work in a store that would of been converted to a tesco express (and not even a large express)but they couldn't due to monopoly rulings (they still own the the company though). On these trucks your stuff is delivered in cages to roll it on/off the trucks as quick as possible.

          even so when your average delivery is 7 -12 of these and they are as tall as a person and a 2 sq meter ish square (the local dairy is the same). it can still take 30 mins. Trucks have roll on/off capacity for cages, Vans don't they would be an absolute pig to unload/load individual boxes and take significantly longer with increased wastage due to drops etc

          Now then using a fleet of transits and you would need a fleet as the trucks often have shortish runs (3-6 Drops) there is a real chance you could not fit a single stores worth in a single transit. Also these places do a good trade on alcohol at least 2 -3 cages per delivery (2 delivery's a week) which weighs a lot.

          Electric would be no good either unless you want distribution warehouses on every street corner, the trucks do several hundred miles in a day, one of the main reasons being the distribution hubs need to be out of towns (in my sores case it was around 50 miles away)

          oh and on point [1] your right i pay more road tax on a 650 55 MPG motorbike then a small car?

  4. The Bit Wrangler

    Fortunately my car has a feature to prevent such SatNav mishaps. It's a clear, covered opening in front of the driver. I call it the "windscreen". By looking through it I can usually detect ditches, cliffs, rivers and level-crossings in time to avoid driving into, off, through and over such hazards.

    I have noticed that a number of other cars on the road appear to have the same feature, indeed most do, although some drivers do seem to have mistaken theirs for a SatNav mount point in order to place their gadget in their eye-line while driving...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That is no longer a viable option...

      Unfortunately the windscreen has now been patented by Apple (iWindscreen) and due to is having a bezel and rounded corners it is too risky to use for fear of litigation.

      Workarounds are being sought but the relevant manufacturers and are looking into the suggestion by Apple that the windscreen is made cluttered, distorted and provides a less immersive experience.

    2. Grease Monkey

      Actually I can think of quite a few cases where looking ahead doesn't really help. Like the dead end near Glwalchmai I mentioned in another post. The sat nav directs you up a lane which has no dead end signs. The first you know the sat nav has gone wrong is when you come round a bend to discover that somebody has built a dual carriageway across the road.

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Anyone who has a mishap for following Sat Nav instructions and ignoring road signs should have their driving licence cancelled.

    1. DPWDC


      Worst thing a sat nav should cause a driver is the need to perform a 3 point turn!

  6. DPWDC

    Thought this would be a waste of time, but.

    When I read about this, I thought it was another case of the gvt stepping in to an area they have no knowledge of and implementing stupid rules that make no sense. However the reclassification of roads by local councils is actually a good idea! Plenty of single track country lanes are A roads with national speed limit, without a hope of getting down them at anything more than 15mph, as a result Satnav will send you down those roads as they are faster (on paper).

    1. Old Tom
      Big Brother

      yes, but...

      Any driver who studies a map before driving somewhere unfamiliar will have come across situations where the road signs route you the way the council wants you to go rather than the route which is (to you) best for your journey.

      Many of the coming reclassifications will be aimed at reinforcing this type of non-optimal routing of non-locals.

      These efforts to manage you for their benefit may be nullified by satnavs, so the powers that be want to feed their preference for the way you go into your satnav.

      (I don't care, I don't use satnav; I study the (Google) map before setting out, taking a streetview look at key nodes so I know where I'm going.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Plenty of single track country lanes are A roads with national speed limit

      A single track road could never be classified as an A road. If you don't know the difference between an A road and a country lane then you urgently need to go and buy a copy of the Highway Code or take some top-up driving lessons or both.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        The A415 between Abingdon and Witney is an example of this. Some sections of it are single track.

      2. Equitas
        Paris Hilton

        A little to quick on the draw, I think ....

        Anonymous Coward wrote "A single track road could never be classified as an A road. If you don't know the difference between an A road and a country lane then you urgently need to go and buy a copy of the Highway Code or take some top-up driving lessons or both."

        I think it's Anonymous Coward who urgently needs to go and buy a copy of the Highway Code and take some top-up driving lessons. Many hundreds of miles of A roads -- so classified because they are primary routes -- are single track with, by definition, no better alternative.

        Paris, because even she isn't that thick

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bit of thought and planning?

      I have a top notch SatNav built into my car at purchase with up to date maps. When I'm planning one my day-out photographic trips that can require roud trips of up to 350 miles into the most bizarre backroads. I first take a look at Google Maps at home to see what the rough size of roads I will going down, I always take a shufty at the AA road map in the car, put the route in the SatNav and head off. When the SatNav sends me down the smaller roads I already know they are going to be small so the spongy thing in my head says, "Hold on there son, this is a small single track road, lets keep the speed down just in case there's cars, sheep, pigs, shit, fallen trees and/or drunks in the road."


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