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 Silver badge

        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 Silver badge

        "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."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jade Goody at her hearing

    Clerk "And why did you turn left into Oxford street ignoring the signs banning left turns during daylight hours and several warning signs"?

    Jade "because my satnav told me to turn left"

    I must wholeheartedly agree with The Bit Wrangler and Giles Jones

  8. Jim 59

    Slow updates

    Slow updates is right. As of their 3Q 2011 update, Teleatlas, or whoever supplies Navigon/Garmin, are still ignorant of the existance of the A421 near Bedford/Cambridge. This is a major dual carriageway opened in autumn 2009. Googlemaps had it on the day of opening. Both my satnavs think it is a field.

    I get free updates every quarter. In the last 3 quarters none of the mistakes I know of have been corrected.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I suspect it's Garmin who is at fault.

      TeleAtlas is owned by TomTom, and TomTom for the last 14 months has had the A421 on the map at being a dual-carriage, complete with the odd triple-roundabouty junction on the M1.

      You can even check TeleAtlas at to see what their current map looks like and submit corrections.


      1. CmdrX3

        I don't know about TeleAtlas

        but I wouldn't bother submitting any changes to Navteq via their "map reporter". I submitted quite a few changes to them including a two way road that was categorised as a one way. A pedestrian only road (with no through route) that was marked as a normal road. An alleyway at the side of a house that was marked as a road and a road that was separated in the middle by a fence, and a largish gulley with a river running through it that was marked as a normal connected road (even though it's never been connected). Of the dozen or so changes I submitted nearly two years ago, they have completed only two changes which was to add an Iceland supermarket and remove a petrol station from the POI's. To this day the rest are still "In Process". Needless to say, I didn't bother wasting my time submitting any more.

    2. Jim 59

      Navigon finally noticed the A421

      The Q4 2012 Navigon updates, made available a few days ago, finally include the A421 project near bedford which was opened in autumn 2010, not 2009 as I stated above.

  9. wiggers

    A3 Hindhead Tunnel

    This has been open since last July and was in construction for several years beforehand, but neither Google Maps nor Bing Maps show it. How can they possibly not notice such a huge change to a major road? Do any satnavs show the new alignment?

    Obligatory Wikipedia entry for those unfamiliar with the road:

    1. Roger Stenning
      Thumb Up

      OSM's got it, though :-)

      Wiggers - the Open Street map's got the Hindhead Tunnel though :-) Those of us using Android phones for satnav can also use NavFree, which uses the OSM (has the beauty of being an offline Satnav, too).

      OSM Hindhead Tunnel mapping:

      NavFree on the Android marketplace:

      1. Andy ORourke

        +1 for Navfree.......

        You can even get it on the iPhone from the App store :-)

      2. Spikehead

        For those that have Garmin sat navs, there is a way of getting openstreetmap maps onto your device:-

      3. wiggers


        has it too I've just noticed. I stopped using it 'cos it kept crashing on me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Teleatlas/TomTom also has it

      Checked both TeleAtlas on MapInsight and TomTom's iPhone App. Hindhead Tunnel is in both.

  10. Marty

    there is nothing like .....

    a fool who follows a fool....

    Sat-navs no matter how good they are, no matter how much you pay for them should only ever be used as a driving aid to navigation, the road signs should always be taken note of and supersede what your satnav is telling you. Just because your satnav tells you to turn left at the next junction, if the road is one way and your facing the wrong way you dont go down it....

    far to often these mishaps happen because the fools dont follow what the road signs are saying, but its the driver and not the satnav to blame.

    I myself use a satnav quite often and its clear to me that they are not perfect, and proberbly never will be. What needs to be looked at is pricing of map updates, or if there should be a charge at all.

    If there is a error in the map then surely this calls into question if the device is fit for purpose? therefore if the maps should be supplied free.... its a different matter if the road has had changes made to it.

    maybe its time or a satnav system to go on the market that has a user editable map online? When the alterations are confirmed then it will go live on the maps for all users to download...

    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt
      Thumb Up

      take a look at waze, on android and iphone (and blackberry)

    2. Linker3000
      Thumb Up

      "maybe its time or a satnav system to go on the market that has a user editable map online? When the alterations are confirmed then it will go live on the maps for all users to download...

      "It's called Waze and it's free.

  11. AndrueC Silver badge

    You'd think that the answer to this would be an online 'cloud' based navigator - like Google Navigator. Unfortunately updates to this aren't very fast either. I've pointed out three defects in my local are and it took six months for the changes to appear on my 'droid.

  12. JimC Silver badge

    Its an intersting insight into human nature

    That people seem much happeier to believe a paper map can be wrong than an electronic one.

    1. Jim 59

      @Its an intersting insight into human nature

      True. In years past we were content to go on holiday with a 5 year old paper atlas. We weren't bothered that it might not have newer roads.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        You knew that it wasn't up to date, but you weren't using it for every last metre of the journey (or foot).

        You looked at the map before you set off, looked at the major roads you would need to use and which towns you would pass, then you would tuck it away behind the driver's seat and dig it out again, if you got lost.

        I did a lot of motorcycle tours across Europe and all I ever took was a wad of post-it notes, with a list of the major towns I would pass and the major road numbers I needed to look out for. It was only once I got to the destination town or village, that i needed a detailed map, and generally asking for directions, once I got there was enough.

  13. SJRulez

    Why does the Gov spend millions on OS maps which don't get used by Sat Nav firms, if they want a better say force them to purchase access to the OS maps and make those more available.

    Surely it would make more sense to have a single standard map that they all work from and then allow the companies to overlay what ever additional features they want to display....

    Bottom line still is though......

    Stop using f**king Sat Nav - If you don't know where your going use a map then at least you know roughly where your going and have actually looked at the route rather than punching it into your little device and waiting for instructions because you still don't know where your f**king going!

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      >Stop using f**king Sat Nav

      ..on the open road, perhaps. Trying to find an address for the first time in a town or city (especially if it's busy) is a nightmare on your own.

      Personally I also like the idea of having a machine that at least always knows where I am. That way if I decide to strike across country to avoid a traffic jam it can always get me back to a main road and fairly reliably get me where I'm going.

      1. big_D Silver badge


        Finding an address in a town or city isn't that much of a problem. Look at the map before you go, heck with Google Maps and Streetview, it is even easier, you can get a good idea of what buildings you need to look out for.

        I did hundreds of thousands of miles before the satnav came out, across the UK and Europe. I rarely even took a map with me, I'd take a look before setting out and that was it.

        I've had a car with a satnav built in, and I hardly ever used it and the times I did use it, were the times that I'd generally be late. In fact, it got to the point, where I'd turn it on, but after 20 miles, I'd ignore it and take a more optimal route!

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          >Finding an address in a town or city isn't that much of a problem. Look at the map before you go, heck with Google Maps and Streetview, it is even easier, you can get a good idea of what buildings you need to look out for.

          What a lot of faffing around. I just type the postcode into my phone and tell it to take me there. I can agree with you on the open road because I can usually plot a better route but I don't understand your hatred of them in a built-up area. With a satnav I can concentrate on driving and vehicles/pedestrians while just keeping an ear out of directions. What do you find so objectionable about that? It's surely better to just be listening for directions instead of adding yet another visual burden to your brain.

      2. hplasm Silver badge


        In general, I know vaguely where I am, and where roughly I am heading. The last mile though can be the killer. Getting back home on autopilot is great.

        And it's fun to wind the satnav up when you know there's a better route than the one it wants you to take...

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          >And it's fun to wind the satnav up when you know there's a better route than the one it wants you to take..

          Oh yes. I go from Brackley to North Wales several times a year and it's always amusing when the Satnav tries to send me up the M6 and across via Liverpool. Watching the estimated completion time climb to six hours before it suddenly twigs round about Shrewsbury and knocks it down to an hour remaining. I can imagine the CPU inside suddenly going a bit red-faced :)

          But credit it where it's due it knows about the shortcut in Llandudno - turning off the dual carriageway after a hundred yards. It even knows there's no equivalent coming back and routes me out through Deganwy. Maybe someone told Google what a PITA The Links roundabout can be :)

          1. Grease Monkey

            @AndrueC and what sort of bloody useless satnav do you have? Most Satnavs calculate the journey at the start and only recalculate when you go off route. I can't think of a single satnav that works the way you are claiming yours does.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge

              @Greasemonkey:Do you have a reading impediment?

              My entire post is an example showing what happens when you go 'off-route'.

              I'll restate it just for you:

              When I travel from Brackley to Llandudno my satnav plots a route that goes via Manchester and Liverpool (roughly speaking). I prefer to go M54/A5 (note to reader - this is known as going 'off route'). And yes, it recalculates as it goes along but it's not until Shrewsbury that it finally gives up trying to send me via Manchester and Liverpool. At that point it suddenly knocks several hours off the estimate.

              Is that clear enough for you yet?

              1. Graham Marsden


                Does your Sat Nav not have the ability to set Waypoints so that you can *tell* it you want to go an alternative route??

    2. ChrisC

      "Stop using f**king Sat Nav - If you don't know where your going use a map"

      As much as I dislike people who blindly follow the advice of the hallowed device (and doubly dislike those who seem to think it's a HUD given the way they position it in the middle of their windscreen), I have almost as much disdain reserved for people who think that satnavs and maps are two completely seperate and incompatible means of navigation.

      I grew up in a house full of maps, I spent almost as much time reading maps as I did reading books, and 30-odd years after picking up my first map I still get a tingle down my spine when I look at a finely drawn example of the cartographers art. And yes, every time I embark on a new journey, I plan the whole thing on the map first. But I also then take the satnav with me... As good as my memory is for maps and directions, it isn't photographic, so if anything should occur en-route that requires me to divert from the planned route then instead of having to pull over to refresh my memory of the roads in that area I can let the satnav handle the task of getting me back on track.

      So yes, whilst I do believe people (especially those people responsible for getting motor vehicles from A to B) should have at least a basic grounding in the art of map reading, I absolutely don't subscribe to the notion that being able to read a map means that satnavs are redundant.

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Thumb Up


        I gave you a thumbs up, even though I don't own a SatNav.

        I do the same as you, for the planning stage. For the actual journey, I just have a couple of Post-It notes with major towns and maybe detailed directions for finding the street at the destination - or I ask for directions, once I get there, if I can't find it.

        The post-it note method got me from Southampton to Scillian in Tirol, Austria and back, without getting lost - the whole trip fit on 3 post-it notes!

        1. hplasm Silver badge

          At least the satnav

          won't blow away when you open the window.

    3. Graham Marsden


      "you still don't know where your f**king going!"

      You clearly don't ride a motorcycle.

      One of the best things about biking is getting off the beaten track and exploring some of the B and C roads, avoiding motorways and built-up areas, and finding there's actually still some beautiful countryside out there.

      And if those roads happen to be nice and twisty too, so much the better!

      Once finished having fun, just tell the Sat Nav "take me home" and you're sorted.

      It's about the ride, not the destination.

  14. That Steve Guy

    Drivers not using Map updates.

    -"Meanwhile, many drivers apparently fail to update their satnavs to gain access to the latest road-mapping data."

    Given how they often they used to charge for map updates on tom toms and the like its no wonder that this is the case.

  15. Seanmon
    Thumb Up

    On the plus side...

    If you're not a sat-nav user and prefer to use the tried-and-trusted "knowing where you're going" method, it' s great when a new road opens and nobody but you knows about it. The dual carriageway that takes a significant chunk out of my daily commute was deserted for its first year after opening due to not appearing on sat nav.

  16. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Subtle change

    I should start out saying I agree with all the comments above, namely people who get into danger with a satnav are just bad drivers, full stop.

    I can understand the slight difference though, in that humans are generally inclined to "trust" a "human" who has earned it. In this case, the satnav is (to all intents) a human voice and has earned trust through hours of being correct, the natural human instinct is to trust the satnav's voice.

    Although having said all that, even if someone was navigating with a map next to me and told me to turn left, I'd still notice if it was a no entry sign for example and explain I can't do that. I'd also be able to figure out if a road I was about to enter was too narrow for the vehicle I was driving, recognise a grass field followed by a cliff and notice a user-operated level crossing when I saw one.

    I also don't see how updating map-makers data will get to my mother's satnav without me intervening, taking it out the car, plugging it into a PC, updating the maps, hopefully not buggering it up... Satnavs live in the car, and without OTA updates will seldom be updated.

    1. The First Dave

      "the satnav is (to all intents) a human voice and has earned trust through hours of being correct"

      Not mine. she is called "The bitch" due to hours of being entirely stupid.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Same here.

        "Make a U tuuuuuurn"

        "Make a U tuuuuuurn"

        I often use it on long distance routes even if I'm familiar with them just for something to curse and laugh at. I rarely rely on it but when you're on your own it's nice to have some navigational support.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge


      " ... people who get into danger with a satnav are just bad drivers, ". Yes, true. However, they haven't just appeared from nowhere. There were a lot of people that got into danger without satnavs - they just didn't get reported. There were people who got lost, went the wrong way on on-way streets, did ridiculous manoeuvres to correct a mistake, shot across traffic lanes because they just saw the road they wanted, drove with their heads in maps/reams of paper, stopped in bad places to try and read road-signs/ask for directions, drove up dead-ends, onto beaches, into rivers ... there is literally *nothing* new about the things that people blame on satnav. Personally, I think the situation is better - people get warnings about up-coming junctions, often with a nice little diagram of it, and which way to go. On a personal level, I don't need to worry about whether I'm going to get a phonecall from my wife asking where she is (?) and how to get to her destination quite as often.

      People blindly following satnavs can be a small problem - people having no clue where they are and getting anxious about it are far worse.

  17. handleoclast Silver badge

    Let your satnav do the walking...

    The most likely explanation for vehicles ending up on undriveable paths and having to be airlifted out of there by helicopter is not mapping errors but due to the nut behind the wheel.

    Most satnavs offer a choice of fastest route, shortest route and WALKING route. Guess which choice results in vehicles trapped on goat tracks...

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge


      surely, it would be trivial to include a bit of code which checks the motion of the Sat Nav corresponds with a walking pace, and either warns the user, or simply changes mode to "Car" ?

      1. DPWDC


        Garmins do - which is good for a laugh when you're stuck in traffic and it asks you "Are you walking?"

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge

          ROTFLMAO !

          I was going to point out that a reverse feature - using continued low speeds as a sign the user is *not* in a car - might cause problems in the UK in rush hour. But then I thought "nobody would be THAT stupid".

          I own a Garmin too !

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Out of date?

    Since when have ancient roads suddenly become updated?

    We often get lorries using the thousand + year old lanes by us and getting completely stumped by the sharp right angle. Always worth a giggle watching them spend 30 mins plus getting around the bend. All to save about 2 mins.

    Still I guess the "unsuitable for HGV" "Max 7.5 tonnes" and "narrow road" markings have only been up a few decades.

  19. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Sorry epic fail

    the great and good can pontificate all they like, but since the only way anything will change is when the old data gets replaced by the new, nothing is going to happen anytime soon.

    Just as I never bought a new road atlas every year, I don't buy map updates every year (especially when they cost as much as Garmin charge). And neither, do I suspect, do 80% of sat-navvers out there.

    During the week, I would say that at least 20 cars drive down my cul-de-sac and have to turn round, and leave, because the postcode centroid for the university the other side of the garden happens to be outside my house. I even had someone ring my bell once, asking where the University was, and calling me a liar when I said it was "over there", insisting their sat nav must be right.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    update charges

    I got a Garmin satnav a few years back for £99 - it came with a free map update which I used. About a year later I wanted to update the map again and found I could subscribe for around £90 for 'lifetime' updates for this device. Suffice to say I did not update it as I could simply get a new one around the same money at a well known car spares chain if they happen to be doing a sale/promotion.

  21. Neil Spellings

    Map update rip-off

    Having up-to-date maps available won't mean everyone uses them.

    I asked our Honda dealer for an update DVD for the 2 year old built-in Navman GPS in my CRV but they wanted £349 for it. I did point out to them I could buy a completely new GPS system for less than that but they just did the "dealer shrugg" and I walked out empty handed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Other sources

      It's rip off's like this that "might" force someone to consider using alternative sources for their maps - cough, Usenet, cough

  22. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    I wonder if it's time for Stanley Milgram to repeat his tests, but with a Sat Nav instead ?

  23. ChrisC

    Cost of updates isn't the only problem

    It's also not knowing whether the update fixes enough problems to be worth spending your money on (or if they're free updates, if it's worth spending the time to perform the update).

    With paper maps it's a trivial exercise to pick up the latest issue and quickly compare it against the one you've already got, before either putting it back on the shelf or taking it to the till. Maybe the satnav manufacturers should start providing an online service where you'd tell it which version of the map you've currently got and which device you're using it on, and it'd then highlight every change relevant to that device between your currently installed map and the latest release, allowing you to browse the map onscreen just as if you had it loaded onto your actual device.

    1. ChrisC
      Thumb Up

      The Teleatlas site ( SP mentioned in an earlier post is one I wasn't aware of when I posted my comment above, so it's good to see a small step being taken in the right direction. I even managed to find a couple of errors to report, one of which is at least 5 years old...

  24. Linker3000

    Help out with crowdsourced SatNav - Waze

    See if you can grab a copy of Waze for your phone from your app store or marketplace - it's a free, crowd-sourced Satnav app with user-generated/updated mapping and real-time traffic info. It's not perfect but it's getting better all the time. I'm helping to map parts of West Sussex.

    The more people start using the app the more accurate the maps will get as Waze also auto-corrects and adjusts the mapping database based on the routes being driven with the app running.

  25. gaz 7

    Got shag all to do with SatNavs and everything with stupidity

    And everything to do with careless or even dangerous driving.

    If these roads have clear signs showing width/height/weight restrictions and a driver ignores these, and gets stuck and or damages because they were following a satnav then they should be named, shamed and charged accordingly.

    "professional" drivers such as Truck and coach drivers should be fined heavily

    It is carelessness and stupidiy, nothing more.

    Although making a "national" map compatible with all makes, with regular updates either free or for a nominal cost would be very useful - We have the data and the organisation after all in the OS. Could save money, emissions etc, especially if it defaulted to the most economical.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Not always stupidity

      When clearly signed or obvious there's little excuse but it's fairly easy to end up on a wrong road having missed a turn. I've done that (and don't use SatNav), realised I'm likely on the wrong road but what to do; try a million-point turn when the road's no wider than the car or continue cautiously and find a better turning point?

      Most of the 'idiots' we hear about (and it's not that many) are the unlucky ones who found the road ended at the edge of a cliff and the like, not in some farmer's driveway. Most of the rest just breath easy when they reach a safe place to turn round and we never hear about it.

      Professional drivers have less excuse, but mere mortals tend to get quite panicky when they find themselves in situations they don't expect or disoriented. I've travelled on roads I couldn't believe were real roads but turned out to be what I should be travelling on so it's not always easy to make the call that a SatNav has got it wrong.

      "I followed the SatNav" isn't usually the full story but that's how it's presented, perhaps because we like to laugh at "idiots" and others' misfortune. After all; "I'm perfect, wouldn't be so stupid".

      There but for the Grace of God ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: a million-point turn

        I've found reversing to be a helpful skill when wanting to go in the opposite direction, but it seems many drivers are unaware or incapable of this manoeuvre. Obviously not applicable to artics, whose drivers should instead be able to contact some sort of standard helpline to call out a recovery vehicle /before/ they tie themselves up in difficult and costly knots.

  26. Jon Smit

    New bypasses

    When a town in bypassed, the road numbers change, so the Hindhead Tunnel is (or should be) the A3 and those with a brain would know this.

    As has been said, anyone who has an accident and blames their SatNav should be banned from driving, as they are proven to be too stupid to be allowed to sit behind a wheel.

  27. Andy Miller

    Trucks need to spend more

    Most Sat-navs don't show hight and width restrictions - they are designed for cars which can go under any bridges. There are sat-navs designed for trucks, but they are a lot more expensive. Most of the truck related problems are due to companies that buy cheap car systems for lorries, and then employ drivers too thick to read road signs.

    Updates are a red herring here - no bridges have been lowered or lanes narrowed since sat-navs were invented.

    I subscribed for a year of updates to my Tom-Tom last year, but only because I knew the Hindhead tunnel and Weymouth relief road were due. Both appeared promptly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not a question of cost

      having worked in logistics software, I can tell you that your maps are only as good as the source - the OS in the UK. And even *they* could not guarantee bridge heights. The most common request we had was for routes to avoid low bridges, but we couldn't guarantee them (to a civil claim standard) since it wasn't guaranteed to us.

      Most truckers[1] know their own routes so it's not an issue. But sadly, the one time they might need a sat-nav (accident diversion, for example) is the one time they can't *rely* on it.

      1. Equitas

        The standard of UK mapping

        has declined greatly -- the quality of OS mapping is now very poor indeed. Small wonder that the various mapping systems used by satnavs is poor!

    2. Stratman

      One remedy would be to make it a condition of gaining or renewing an Operator's Licence that any satnav used in the vehicle must be suitable for HGVs.

      Get stuck under a low bridge and both driver and operator get tickets.

    3. ChrisC

      "no bridges have been lowered or lanes narrowed since sat-navs were invented"

      Are you sure about that, especially the "lanes narrowed" bit? There are an awful lot of artificial width restrictions out there, some of which are the *only* reason why HGVs end up getting stuck trying to use that route, and I don't believe for a moment that they were all installed prior to sat navs becoming commercially available.

  28. Graham 32

    This might be the beginning of government interference with satnav routing. Satnavs find optimal routes which might not be the ones councils want you to take.

    It might go something like: "We, the government, will give you free maps if you promise to never send someone down this huge list of rat runs unless they are going to a nearby address."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and this would be a bad thing because?

      see title

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: the ones councils want you to take

      As councils are responsible for maintaining roads and making traffic orders on them, it would seem reasonable to use them according to the way that they have been designed, would it not?

  29. Mike Banahan

    Would love a standard for speed limit data

    Whilst doing this I wish the wonks would come up with a standard for defining road speed limits and the areas they apply to.

    The gentle 'bong' sound from my TomTom is a VERY useful adjunct to eyballing speed restriction signs.

    A UK (or EU) standard for publishing that data with a statutory requirement to publish it (and a get-out for an offending driver if its not up to date or is incorrect) would be a much greater contribution to observing speed limits than any number of speed cameras.

    I think I'd work hard to keep that information up to date.

    1. Chris Miller

      Don't be silly

      Making it tricky to keep track of the current speed limit is an intentional revenue generating exercise. Why else would it go 30/40/30/40/30 in less than a mile along the main road where I live (guess where the plods put their mobile cameras)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't be silly

        > Why else would it go 30/40/30/40/30 in less than a mile along the main road where I live

        In a nutshell, because speed limit is determined by the design of the road, which is itself constrained by a multitude of factors.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, they aren't.

          If they were, then the dual carriageway with fenced central reservation, pelican crossings and underpasses would have a higher speed limit than the single carriageway in front of a school.

          Instead of the other way around, which they are very close to where I live.

          Of course, the buses completely ignore these limits. Presumably being hit by a bus at 40MPH hurts less than being hit by a car at 30MPH.

          My guess? There are no guidelines on speed limits inside towns, and the only time limits ever get revised is by knocking 10MPH off them at random after a fatal crash has occurred. Regardless of the causes or circumstances of the crash.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No, they aren't.

            I bow to your superior knowledge then. After all, how could I possibly know.

            ...and excuse the sarcasm.

            1. Grease Monkey

              There are many flaws in your argument.

              For a start the police do not set speed limits, local authorities and the highways agency (depending on the road type) have that particular honour. Whichever authority is responsible they can't just set speed cameras at a whim there are processes they have to follow.

              Secondly a police force does not make money directly from speed cameras, the money goes to the treasury and there is no link between the funding of a given force or local authority and their treasury contributions from speed cameras. There are incentives for authorities to operate speed cameras, but these incentives are not affected by the revenue from those cameras.

              And finally if you can't actually drive within the speed limit from posted signs then you are frankly a shit driver. Yes I've had two speeding prosecutions in over half a million miles of driving and in both cases I knew what the limit was and I knew I was over it. I took a risk I got caught, my bad. Those who claim they couldn't see the posted limit have a simple recourse, just demonstrate that the sign was missing or obscured. If it was neither then the driver was at fault. It's not difficult and plenty of people have managed it, however it's not common because most signs are present and not obscured. The courts will also take into account things like the fact that you should assume that a lit single carriageway should be assumed to be a 30 limit unless signs indicate otherwise. So getting a pull for doing 50 in a built up area may still stand even if you could show the sign was obscured.

  30. nijam

    Well, this 'summit' won't improve anything. It's all - and only - about giving local authorities more powers to obstruct road users. Sat-navs are simply going to become the latest tool sustaining the UK's rampant government hostility to personal transport.

  31. Grease Monkey

    The three largest problems are not out of date maps. They are, in no particular order.

    Idiot drivers blaming sat navs for their own errors.

    Drivers using sat navs that are not suitable for the job, I'm thinking particularly of truck and coach drivers who use ordinary sat navs intended for car drivers. Living as I do in a village with a weight limit I can tell you that every time the road is clogged by trucks and coaches getting stuck on their way to the M1 the drivers always blame their sat navs. Now going back to the point above I know that some of the drivers are consciously trying to take a shortcut to the motorway having ignored the big flashing weight limit sign at the previous junction, but several of them are clearly using sat navs intended only for cars. The easy answer to this is to introduce an offence for HGV and PSV drivers found relying on unsuitable sat navs and to prosecute.

    And finally there are maps that are downright wrong. When I had a Tom Tom it had a habbit of directing me down dirt tracks. One particular favourite it would try just after setting out from home is a bridleway and has never been open to motor traffic. I use iGo these days which doesn't seem to suffer from this problem, although other locals tell me other brands of satnav favour the same road. The maps on these devices are not out of date they are just plain wrong. Another trick the Tom Tom tried to pull on me was to direct me to Gwalchmai up a lane that cam to a dead end at the A55. That stretch of the A55 was built several years before the Tom Tom in question was manufactured, so Tom Tom were selling devices with maps that were several years out of date at the time of sale. It's one thing for a user to fail to update their maps, quite another for the manufacturer to sell devices with out of date maps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: just plain wrong

      So did you do anything to correct the errors? If not, how is the GPS supplier supposed to know it's wrong?

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        It will probably be

        more a case of a shit routing algorithm, which bases it's calculations on simply using the roads posted speed limit, rather than a more real-life database. Which explains why my Garmin directs me along a myriad of country lanes to get from my house to the motorway, despite the fact I can do it on 2 main roads - because it *thinks* I can do 60mph on them, which makes them "faster" than the 40mph (but 1mile longer) route I do take.

        Last year, I had to drive from London, N11, to Birmingham. Sat Nav told me quickest route was 2 1/2 hours along the A1/M1/M25->M40->M42. I did it, without speeding in 2 hours by going A40-M40->M42 because I know that's the best route at 10:30pm on a Sunday .....

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Buzzby


    I have often seen them referred to as p**t navs because so many p**ts use them.

  34. Stevie Silver badge


    Not saying that improving GPS/SatNav tech is a bad idea, but I note that the instant update turnaround time for a printed map was on the order of months or years which would lead one to the conclusion this problem must have been huge before GPS/SatNav.

    Except it wasn't, really.

    DDS (Daft Driving Syndrome) seems to be a product of the technology, not the phenomena of the maps not being accurate. Perhaps the GPS/SatNav devices need to say "watch the road, process what you're seeing, remember I'm just a jukebox" every five minutes or so to remind people that they still need to drive with their brains switched ON.

    My GPS device wants to route me through Manhattan every time I drive off Long Island. Do I follow the increasingly hysterical demands from "Susan" for me to do that? Not on a bet. Not for a million dollars. Not for all the tea in China.

    Of course, this sort of nonsense just proves two things: a) that the time is long-overdue for taking humans out of the business of driving cars in public and 2) the technology to *take* humans out of the business of driving in public is laughably far off in the future. Still.

  35. Tom 35 Silver badge

    These powers will help councils make sure that drivers are...

    kept off their streets and sent through places where other unimportant people live.

  36. Andy Livingstone

    Am I the only one now really scared by.......

    "allowing local authorities" to determine "where they want traffic to run and" "places they want traffic to avoid" ??

    I am not a number, I am a free man. In a supposedly free country too.

    In the good old days they were called Councils, staffed by Civil Servants who knew that they were "Your Humble and Obedient Servant" and signed letters accordingly. When and how did the Servants become the Masters and "Authorities"?

    1. Jon Smit

      The councils are concerned about heavy vehicles

      not cars.

      It's heavy goods who damage the roads and knock down trees who need to be educated. Barely a day goes by without something like this happening -

      Oh - council workers have never been civil servants. And you should know that government civil servants have always run the country.

    2. Grease Monkey

      "I am not a number, I am a free man. In a supposedly free country too."

      Traffic management is, and always has been, the responsibility of the local authority. Secondly nowhere in law does it mention that this is a free country.

      Just because you imagine the world to be a certain way that does not mean that it is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Traffic management is the responsibility of the local authority"

        I thought the Highways Agency had responsibility for primary routes, such as the aforementioned A55?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not OpenStreetMap?

    So what is it that they're doing then? Why don't they just formalise what a number of councils do around where I live in the continent, which is dump their GIS database into OSM (OpenStreetMap) at more or less regular intervals.

    Big win for everyone involved: the councils are paying (and getting paid) to generate the data in the first place so might as well make sure it's used, consumers can benefit from open and timely access to it, and road navigation providers lower their overheads by not having to duplicate the councils' work, and can spend some of the extra money on value added services instead.

    The only ones I can see coming worse off are the civil service, who would lose out on another brilliant misspending scheme--but I can't see one more or less would make any odds.

    1. Roger Stenning

      Over here, unfortunately, it's not that simple, mate :-(

      The mapping data that local councils are required to use is owned by Ordnance Survey, and they pay a whopping great licence fee to OSGB to use it. Talk about a captive market.

      Most printed maps in the UK, in fact, are based on OSGB data. says so, right there in the flyleaves of map books, and on the legend sections of sheet maps. Go look. Anf they too, pay a licence fee to OSGB to use the data that we all paid for.

      Now, while OSGB has released some data to be used by the great unwashed, the important stuff - the stuff that allows one to make decent maps, for example - is still under their control. Now, you'd think that OSGB, being run by the government, would set the data free, so to speak, but this is not the case. It's an executive agency, chartered to make a profit.

      This is why the OSM project got started, by the way. As I understand it, it was a primarily British project that then got rather globalised (and yes, I'm stealing back that word from the commercial side of things, bite me!), because someone (a several someones, really), decided that we, the great unwashed masses, wanted to own the data ourselves, rather than have to pay through the nose for data that really and truly, we, the taxpayers, had already paid to have collected, collated, and condensed into usable maps.

      Hope that clears up why the OSM exists, and why it's an uphill struggle to get mainstream map users to use the OSM.

      1. Jon Smit

        According to OS ...

        "The PSMA datasets are free at the point of use for all eligible public sector bodies."

        I believe OS is going to be up for grabs shortly. It may have started out as a military operation, it'll probably end up as part of yet another multi-nationals assets.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Over here, unfortunately, it's not that simple, mate :-(

        Good summary. I should have pointed out that I was referring to the data the councils collect themselves, such as new road layouts, land use, utilities, etc., not to the base data, although that comes from the local mapping agency (OS equivalent, and also a government-owned public company that has to generate revenue to cover its own costs), who however have no problem with their data being used in OSM.

  38. WonkoTheSane

    If the gubmint _really_ wanted everyone to have the latest maps...

    Then they'd force car dealerships to update built-in satnavs for free as part of the annual service.

    Instead of asking for £££ to buy a disc just for yourself that can update _all_ cars with that system.

  39. Grubby

    Blaming a crash on a sat nav

    Is something a stupid person would do. Try looking through the huge piece of glass every now and then. Proper winds me up how people are given something to assist and instantly switch off.

    1. Grease Monkey

      The government think tank is not about accidents "caused" by satnavs. They are talking about the much publicized problems of people taking unsuitable routes where road layouts have changed.

  40. All names Taken

    Jolly good!

    Or is it?

    Were not a European Galileo type thang promised for 1999, oops, 2000, oops, 20001, oops, ... thus demonstrating European ruthless efficiencies?

    Or maybe not?

    Do't u just lurve kwestchunz?

    1. Grease Monkey

      What has that got to do with the fact that people are relying on out of date maps? Stick to the point.

  41. Keith T

    Less Traffic In Rich Neighbourhoods, More in Poor Neighbourhoods

    What we'll end up with is traffic routed according to local political interests, in other words traffic routed out of wealthy and politically connected neighbourhoods, and into poor neighbourhoods.

    As well traffic will be routed the long way around past as many shops as possible.

    Town councils do not have motorists interests at heart, they have local interests at heart. It is only obvious that they'll take unfair advantage of their new power over out-of-area drivers.

  42. Will Derrrick

    One government department having to pay another for information is plain daft.

    Would this work?

    Have OSGB expand the OS OpenData project to create an open and documented 1:10 000 vector map of topography, with layers of roads, streets and landmarks on top. Add another layer on top of rules (for lanes, one way streets etc).

    Create a secure and transparent API for councils and third parties to submit changes (either temporary like road closures or flooding, or permanent like making a street one way).

    Require all UK Sat Navs to use this map as a base and to provide an easy update mechanism to download regular updates.

    Release the map free for non-commercial, low license fee for commercial.

    Sat Nav manufacturers can charge for the routing engine and value add (like the "TomTom Route IQ"-style realtime routing information or truck info or overlaying sat imaging etc) on a subscription basis but have to provide the updates to the base map with basic functionality for free.

    Have a simple reg-based system and specify the number of years each device has to be update-able for (e.g. Sat Nav with a reg 60, which is second part of 2010, must be provided with updates for at least two years.) Have it printed on the box in a standardized way.

    Require all HGVs etc to have an up-to-date Sat Nav system suitable for their vehicle.

  43. Jon Smit

    How good is OpenStreetMap

    Just had a gander at my town on OpenStreetMap. There are many unnamed roads, one whole estate that was finished a year ago is shown, without road names.

    What use is part of a map ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How good is OpenStreetMap

      > What use is part of a map ?

      So you do not have to collect all the information from scratch.

      Did you update it then? Else I can fly over there and do it for you. It'll only cost you a one-time fee for my services (until the map changes again), but no recurring licensing costs.

      Or you can have your government do it, whether you want it or not, and charge whatever they like for it, however many times they like. Oh, and if you want to actually use "their" data, you still have to pay.

  44. Asylum Sam

    its not just the maps that screw lorries

    I spent 2006 to 2009 selling Garmin and Navman, often to small fleet delivery firms, and we had calls almost weekly regarding a vehicle getting into difficulties down a narrow road, or offering bizarre , impossible routes, and it was almost without exception, that the device was set to car, bike or pedestrian and not 'truck'.

    1. Grease Monkey

      Just like with trucks a lot of problems experienced by car drivers with satnavs are actually caused misuse of the satnav.

      I know of more than one driver who always have their satnavs set wrongly. One relative has her navigation options set constantly set to "shortest", because she believes it will be faster and cheaper to do it that way. I have explained to her that the "quickest" route will be quicker and the "most ecomomical" will be more economical. The amusing thing is that she spends a lot of time complaining that her satnav sends her though housing estates and the like rather than down main roads. Ho hum.

  45. Flippit


    Two things

    1: MATT DAMON stickers for anyone who blindly follows their sat nav, clearly a stupid and irresponsible approach to driving.

    2: have you seen the cost of updating maps on manufacturer integrated sat nav? BMW 5 series update for 2012 is around £300-£400 depending on which dealer you happen to talk to! Clearly profiteering going on here for a simple data update that could be made available on the web for download!!


    1. Chris Miller

      While you're at the dealer

      Ask them why it costs £1,600* for a fitted satnav when the most expensive external models are around 1/10th the price.

      * BMW figure, but most manufacturers' charges seem to be around this price.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        And the portable device will let you install custom POI files. And have speed limits. And cameras.

        Such provision is patchy, at best, in installed systems.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Updates would be nice

    A few years I bought a satnav (whose manufacturer I won't mention to save embarrassing them) and one of the things the sold it to me was the ability to load new maps off a DVD: it came with loads of them and western europe pre-loaded. Terrific, I thought, periodic updates would be nice if they're a reasonable price.

    That was 2007. Last year, 2011, we were off to the US and I thought I'd buy the current US maps and get the Western Europe ones updated at the same time. I found the general price for maps was £40-£50 which didn't seem too bad. Except that that would have been rather more than that as the US and Western Europe were separately priced.

    So now we're talking about £100 for updated maps ... this wasn't looking like much of a bargain any more.

    What finally put the nail in the coffin for N***** was that this top end satnav had never had a single map update in four years for any price. And it still wants me to go the wrong way down Peach Street.

    I bought the Tomtom app.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TomTom cockup

    My TomTom tried to take me off the M40 down a road which was for authorised vehicles only.


  48. Grease Monkey

    I think what people are missing here is that it will be very unlikely that the solution found by this think tank will affect satnavs already out there. It will no doubt take the form of legislation affecting sales of new satnavs. No doubt it will push up prices. I also suspect it will tend to push a lot of the cheap PNA devices out of the market, plenty of which have no connectivity as such and can't be updated without inserting a new memory card or returning the device to the manufacturer.

  49. This post has been deleted by its author

  50. Tom 7 Silver badge

    In one hundred metres

    bah doo be booby do beee dum

    bum didle diddy da dah dah dah dit

    boop boop boop pe dum.

    turn round at the next available turning place and we'll take that again from the top

    bah doo be booby do beee dum

    sca bibbly dip dip dip.....

    I HATE scat nav.

    1. Grease Monkey

      Nobody is making you use it.

      1. Chris Miller

        Grease Monkey - that whooshing sound was the joke passing over your head:

  51. Equitas

    I blame Mrs Thatcher ....

    for attempting to either privatise or turn into a profit-making body the Ordnance Survey whose maps are now expensive and inaccurate rubbish.

  52. Chris Malme

    Not GPS Error, but human error.

    I've used a GPS for years - my first was a garmin black and white model. In that time, I've only once been badly misdirected; it was my fault, and I didn't follow it, so no harm was done.

    I'd been in Glasgow for a few days, and was driving back to Peterboroough. On approaching a roundabout, it directed me the wrong way around it. Of course, I ignored the directions. It then appeared to randomly direct me around some roundabouts the right way, and some the wrong way.

    When I finally hit the motorway, it immediately directed me back off again. Ignoring that, it then directed me off the next junction, and the next. Thinking something was wrong, I switched off navigation, and for the rest of the journey just used the GPS to tell me where I was.

    A couple of days later, I decided to take a look at my "broken" GPS, and soon found the mistake. While in Glasgow, I had used it in pedestrian mode, and had forgotton to switch it back. So it tried to direct me the quickest way (to walk) around a roundabout, and tried to guide "the pedestrian" off the motorway.

    Fortunately, I've long had the attitude that I treat my GPS just like a passenger with a map. I listen to what they say, but then decide if what they are telling me to do is safe and appropriate.

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