Government holds sat nav summit

Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire
Large lorries have become stuck in Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire Photo: Bernard Green

Most drivers have found themselves heading down a dirt track courtesy of their sat nav before, but out of date and inaccurate directions can often cause a real problem, particularly in small villages and country lanes.

So much so, that the government is holding a “Sat Nav Summit”.

The Transport Minister Norman Baker is meeting with highway authorities, map providers and sat nav manufacturers.

Sat navs have been blamed for a spate of incidents where large vehicles have been instructed to use an unsuitable route. In the village of Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire, large lorries have been directed down a narrow lane forcing them to make a tight turn into the High Street.

Resident Bernard Green says properties have been damaged and that action is long overdue.

“It happens every week, sometimes two or more times a day. Damage to road signs, manholes, pavements and buildings has happened several times. There is a need to enforce the 6 foot 6 inch restriction at the junction of Park Lane and the A6 together with repeater signs at the last place on Park Lane where large vehicles can turn around and head back to the A6.”

– Bernard Green
Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire
Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire Credit: Bernard Green
Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire
Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire Credit: Bernard Green

A few miles up in the road in the village of Souldrop, local people have taken matters into their own hands. Fed up with cars trying to get to the Santa Pod Raceway, they’ve put up signs around the village telling drivers to ignore their sat nav.

Publican Fred Rich says it happens every time there is a race meeting at the track. “People rely completely on their sat nav. So every meet we get a number of people through the village. I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps sat nav companies need to update their mapping software”, he said.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "Out-of-date directions mean misdirected traffic - a scourge of local communities.

"I am pleased that all involved have agreed to work more closely to provide drivers with accurate, up-to-date information on traffic restrictions such as narrow roads or low bridges."

He went on: "The summit will see a plan of action agreed to ensure motorists are given the best possible directions and help prevent huge lorries from being sent down narrow country lanes and through small villages.

"This is timely because from next month we are allowing local authorities to reclassify roads - ensuring A roads are placed where they want traffic to run and lowering the category of road in places they want traffic to avoid - rather than having to come to Whitehall for approval.

"These powers will help councils make sure that drivers are using suitable routes."

A spokesman for sat nav manufacturer Garmin told ITV Anglia it has been proactive in developing technologies to address the problems. “We have for a number of years sold a range of sat navs specifically designed for lorries and trucks and in 2011 we also introduced our ‘pay once’ sat nav series which included free lifetime mapping and traffic updates as standard.”