HUGE lorries sent down tiny roads by out-of-date sat-navs could become a thing of the past after the Government announced a summit on the problems the navigation tool can cause.
The summit, in early March, will be hosted by Local Transport Minister Norman Baker. He wants to see an end to the misery caused when lorry and car drivers follow out-of-date directions from their navigation systems.
Mr Baker also wants highway authorities, mapping providers and sat-nav manufacturers to work more closely to ensure everything possible is done to make sure the right vehicles are on the right roads.
The Department for Transport said it can take months for map updates to make their way from local councils to the devices.
The summit will take place around a month before local authorities gain important new powers to decide how their roads appear on maps – helping them to direct traffic better.
Mr Baker said: “Out-of-date directions mean misdirected traffic – a scourge of local communities.
“It is vital highway authorities, mapping companies and sat-nav manufacturers work more closely together to provide drivers with accurate, up-to-date information on traffic restrictions such as narrow roads or low bridges.
“This will help prevent huge lorries from being sent down inappropriate roads and ensure motorists are given the best possible directions.”
The difficulties have been highlighted in the results of a survey carried out by the AA in June last year which revealed a third of 16,850 motoring association members polled carried a sat-nav in their car, while two fifths – 59 per cent – of respondents admitted to having been lost in their car during the previous year.
Misleading directions from sat-navs can also have more serious consequences. Last week, a judge at Bradford Crown Court partly blamed an in-car navigation system for a road accident in which a father died when a motorist overtook a lorry in pitch darkness and driving rain and ploughed into his motorcycle.
Driver Roland Kadas-Tar had admitted to relying on his electronic route map to check for bends in the road ahead when he could not see himself.
The AA, however, said accidents caused by sat-navs were rare and the “cost benefit of the technology is far more for the benefit side rather than the detrimental side”.
Paul Watters, head of public affairs, said the summit should be used to discuss ways to make sat-nav updates cheaper. Updates can cost hundreds of pounds, but are required regularly to keep on top of changes in road layouts.
“If this summit makes local authorities provide more timely information to those who produce sat-navs, it will be useful for motorists. But it also needs to suggest cheaper updates for the technology.
“At the moment it can cost £100 plus to update and it puts people off.”
He added that motorists need to make sure they understand how their sat-nav functions to ensure accidents do not occur.
“People need to take a step back and read their manuals for their sat-navs. You can stick to main roads and motorways if you plug into the device that that’s what you want.”
In a study produced by sat-nav app developer Skobbler in October, it was found that 51 per cent of 2000 motorists polled had never updated their sat-navs.
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