back to article LibDems want gov action on killer lorries of death

The Liberal Democrats, Britain's other opposition, is calling for urgent government action on the threat of killer lorries of death, which are apparently routinely smashing into railway bridges and menacing primary schools thanks to dodgy satnav. The LibDems reckons satnav devices "frequently direct large vehicles down narrow …


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  1. paulc
    Thumb Down

    clueless numpties, not satnav

    nothing to do with sat nav... it's the clueless numpties who don't set the routing preferences correctly or else are using a database designed for in car use in a lorry...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame the drivers

    It's not the sat nav that's the problem it's the pig ignorant truck drivers who think they own the road and are exempt from safe driving practices such as not eating at the wheel, using a mobile or more commonly staying awake.

    How many times do you hear of a fatal motorway accident that doesn't involve an HGV, hardly ever, and unfortunately it's these irresponsible tw*ts that are usually the survivors.

    As basic driving skills seem to be beyond most of these 'killers' there's little hope they have the intelligence to ignore the sat nav when the road starts to narrow!

  3. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    Not the fault of SatNav

    It is the fault of the drivers. 100%, no exceptions.

    All truck drivers should know the height of their vehicle.

    All truck drivers should be able to read the warning signs that give height and width.

    How can the failure of the driver to process those pieces of information possibly be the fault of the satnav?

    The drivers should be held liable for the cost of repairs - that might get them to pay attention.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Unsuitable roads as much of a problem

    I live on a narrow, twisty, hilly country lane with high hedges and banks. There were nice B roads as wide as a Parisiene boulevard a few miles north and south of this, until the councillors who lived near them decided that they didn't like the huge lorries passing near by and got weight limits placed on them.

    Now some of the SatNavs seems to have been updated, and certainly the online route planners have. So where do they send all the lories now - down our little lane!

    This year so far, there has been a repair/patching crew sent to this 9 mile stretch of road more than once a week as it was just not built for this sort of traffic.

    The councils answers - we can't place a weight limit on all the roads in your area - yes, we know all the suitable roads now have weight limits - we'll put up some suggestion signs to discourage lorries - perhaps you can individually send letters to all the road haulage companies asking them to take a 15 mile detour?

    I blame the councils - not the Satnavs for most of the lorry problems.

  5. Adrian

    It's the SatNav makers fault

    Garmin admits to introducing errors into their data to see if other manufacturers are copying their data. All very well protecting your IP but at the cost of a train load of children dieing ? Is it worth it really ?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Lib Dems, Important Issues??

    Do not forget that the Lib Dems were the only party to warn about the impending disaster in the credit and housing markets and have been doing so for years. Vince Cable saw it, warned about it and was generally laughed at.

    Gordon Brown has brown has destroyed the economic structure of the country and broken money as a concept.

    The conservative chap has no idea..

    The lorry thing? well not as big an issue perhaps.. But you can not dismiss these people.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I drive lorries, I use Sat-Nav

    I drive lorries, I use Sat-Nav

    I have never ended up stuck or hitting anything as I don't floow the Sat-Nav directions like they are flawless. It is a guide only. But I regularrly have trouble explaining this to other drivers who think they are fine as they have a bridge hights POI file etc. The guy on the ground must work his own route out, Sat-Nav is the same as any other map, just a guide.

    As an aside, my employer called me into his office a few days ago to ask why I took 42 minutes between two deliveries when the really expensive route and load planning software on his computer said they were just eight miles apart with a ten minute journy time. I argued it could not be done, he said 'The computer says it can!'

    'Desktop computer?' I asked. 'Yes' he replied.

    'That will explain how it will get under the 10 feet 6 inch clearance bridge then!' said I. 'Next time get the computer to drive the truck.'

  8. Paul


    OK, so you're driving a 30 ton artic navigating by satnav. You see a sign. "Low bridge Maximum height 3 metres". Do you

    A) stop and find another way.

    B) Carry on regardless.

    C) You don't see the sign, or the cyclist or the smart car now wedged in your wheel arch.

    Clue. Look left

  9. ceedee
    Thumb Down

    Opportunity Bungled

    Shame that they couldn't actually list the 20 dangerous locations they've identified so that truckers can avoid them.

    Or even compile them into a POI file to add to out-of-date satnavs...

  10. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Oh, for God's sake...

    "The Government must act to make Sat Nav devices safer for large vehicles."

    Okay. Watch. Ban any driver stupid enough to crash into ANYTHING while watching/believing their satnav over what's actually in the road in front of them. Want a law to do it with? Undue care and attention? Dangerous driving?

    These people are highly-vetted, specialised drivers with a specialised license and tons of other restrictions on them. Being a pillock by driving into a bridge (a BRIDGE, ffs!) should be automatic to losing such a licence and, because only licensed HGV drivers can drive an HGV legally, problem is solved. No more sat-nav HGV crashs, less pillocks on the road, less repair bills, less insurance costs. Give them a bloody eye test - did you not see the bridge, the signs, etc.? No? Then how can you drive an HGV? You DID see them? But you hit the bridge anyway? How can you be allowed to drive an HGV?

    Oh you could, I don't know, mollycoddle them as if it's not THEIR fault that their £40 TomTom that hasn't been updated in ten years doesn't take account of the fact that what's actually ON the road is what you'll hit, instead of what's on the virtual screen that you shouldn't be looking at anyway.

  11. Luis Ogando

    When I were a lad...

    ..lorry drivers read MAPS to find the best route. The companies they worked for supplied known routes and even alternatives for dealing roadworks and blackspots (well, the company my uncle worked for did).

    TwatNavs have dumbed down almost everyone who uses them. Yes, they are good in a lot of cases, with the likes of MapShare (or whatever it's called) allowing users to proactively update maps to take into account new junctions, traffic directions, etc. but at the end of the day if we all grew enough fecking brains to read a damn map, perhaps the average competence of the average motorist would improve... But we won't, so IT won't (sigh).

    STOP, because it's only a matter of time..

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    A better idea...

    Put up traffic sign saying "If you are here due to your satnav, you might be fugged" at the required spots of doom.

  13. Lyndon Hills

    fictitious crossing

    And in Ludlow and Bridgnorth, lorries are being sent to an entirely fictitious crossing over the River Severn.

    It would seem that the problem will solve itself in time, then.

  14. Olaf

    Driver error

    So why not just prosecute the drivers?

    Why is blaming the sat nav now the catch all excuse for doing something stupid in a car? It's not driving.

  15. Andrew Waite

    "The Government must act to make Sat Nav devices safer for large vehicles."

    you mean like putting signs all over the road telling lorry drivers the size/height of the bridge? hold on......

    If the lorry drivers can't figure out what bridge/road/tunnel/whatever is large enough for their vehicle then perhaps they should stick to driving Fiat 500s?

  16. Steve

    LibDem cretins

    Why do politicians always want yet more laws, when the ones we have are perfectly adequate, and just need to be used?

    This has nothing to do with satnavs, and everything to do with incompetent drivers. If a lorry driver hits a low bridge then he* is clearly not paying attention to his driving, why he was directed onto that route is irrelevant. It's his job to watch the road. Can you image what would happen if they said "It wasn't my fault that I crushed all those kids on the school crossing, my satnav made me drive down that road, it didn't say there were children"?

    Charge them with careless or dangerous driving, ban and/or jail them them, and confiscate the lorry. A few cases like that and their pals/employers will pay more attention.

    Of course, that would require replacing those speed cameras with real policemen in patrol cars, so would /cost/ money instead of /making/ money. That's the real problem, not laws and/or satnavs.

    *or she, of course,

  17. Stef
    Thumb Down

    Give me a break

    Growing up there was a very narrow tunnel beneath a very low railway bridge. Lorries would damage it (from scrapes to getting stuck) at least once a week. Sometimes this wasn't a case of it ALMOST fitting through, it was a case of "Never in a million years". This was decades before satnav. It is down to the individual, just like it has always been.

  18. David Edwards


    Truck drivers have more driving than you and are driving something the size of a house. HGV accidents are more serious but nothing compared to the huge number of car owners driving into each other every day. Certainly anyone who drives into a low bridge is a plonker and not driving with DC, no doubt gets prosecuted and possibly fined by the company employing them.

  19. Nicholas Wright

    Reading's Elgar Road

    *shrug* It's an industrial estate, and actually the location of the local DVLA test centre ;)

    So probably more hassle for the learners than many other people/

  20. Paul

    @autopilot? - note to self

    That should be Clue. Look up. It's going to be left now isn't it?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    .... lib dems you say??

    are these the same libdems who have slowely but surely crippled stockport traffic over the last few years... to the point where a morning drive to manchester that took 30 minutes 5 years ago now takes 1 hour 30 minutes... despite being quicker once you escape stockport and cross into manchester itself.... are these the same libdems who resurface a road, then let 10 company's dig it up and leave it in a mess a week later... the same that allowed both gas and the water companies to dig up whole stretches of roads on the two only ways out of marple bridge that lead to the M60 at the same time for weeks at a time regularly - basically crippling us and making the journeys 3 hours long instead... oh, those guys.... yeah, they are all for safe roads... so much so they are making our work journeys take 3 times as long by slowing us to 10mph max for most of it using their road management system - aka, operation chaos... idiots....

  22. Tom Chiverton


    Wouldn't It Be Better If sat. navs. had a 'I am a lorry, avoid low bridges' option, oh, wait, hold on,

  23. Paul

    Do sat-nav devices emit stupid-rays?

    I mean FFS, the computer might as well be driving the bloody thing if the meatsack holding the wheel is slavishly following it's orders to the point where they ignore such visual cues as road signs ("low bridge", anyone?), obstacles in their path or even the road running out altogether.

    There's no need for "safer satnav" laws, if you have a driving licence you clearly have the ability to use your eyes and if you crash because you *weren't* using your eyes there are laws already on the books to cover that (careless driving, driving without due care and attention, or whatever your locality calls it).

    Or to tweak a well-worn cliché: Sat-navs don't crash vehicles. People crash vehicles.

  24. Paul Gomme

    Should be banned or taxed, or restricted to the military...

    Because before the widespread availability of satellite navigation devices, there were absolutely ZERO instances of drivers getting lost, women driving into lakes, hitting bridges or attempting to navigate vehicles down roads that were too narrow for them...

    Perhaps we should also mandate cartographers to provide road widths on their maps?

    Quite what the government is supposed to do about this, I'm not quite sure... Perhaps signpost narrow lanes in Polish, Estonian, Hungarian, French, etc, etc...? A few years ago when I was working for a GPS semiconductor company, I was sitting outside a pub in the countryside (and this *WAS* miles from anywhere), when an HGV pulled up outside and the driver came in to ask the way to a particular town. Having been advised that the way he was going would not be wide enough to get his lorry through, he insisted on carrying on with his journey because his sat-nav had told him that was the way. I wasn't around to witness the point where our advice and reality crossed...

    Of course, naturally someone from the UK government will undoubtedly pop-up in the press over the next few days telling us that the billions of pounds of taxpayer's money being invested in Gallileo will fix this.

    If any politician can really solve this, they've undoubtedly also solved NP-complete mathematical problems as well... I'll keep an eye out for that...

  25. Shane Orahilly
    Thumb Up

    Not every Satnavver gets away with it.

    I think the Driving without due care and attention charge is probably still a bit generous compared to letting him fall off a cliff though:

  26. Richard Lindley
    Thumb Down


    Oh look, we should bring in some more legislation to protect the public from stupid people while at the same time putting the blame on something other than said stupid people.

    Sat Nav is not dumbing down motorists; it is just giving stupid people undue confidence. Does anyone remember the images of cars getting washed away in a river? The driver actually said that the sat nav told them this was the right way - after they had driven down a boating launch ramp that was next to the main road bridge over the river.

    I got a funny look in Halfords last year when I spend a reasonable sum of money on a very comprehensive map – in fact the salesman pointed out how cheap satnav was these days.

    I still don’t own one.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: clueless numpties, not satnav

    I agree, anybody who needs to use a satnav is a clueless numpty, especially the ones who use one to get to work every day. The glow of satnav devices in the morning when it was still dark was like the northen lights, and these people are obviously going to work the same way they went to work the day before and the day before that, etc...

    In thirty years of driving I've never needed such a thing and I cannot see the need for one. I'm not saying I've never been lost nor missed a turning but I feel a lot safer keeping my eyes on the road rather than being a slave to some tempremental electronic gadget.

    Also I recall reading that in a test of these devices compared against normal road users such as myself and route planners (dedicated software and internet based ones) for a long journey the normal road users arrived considerably quicker and more relaxed. I believe they are still looking for some of those that used the route planners.

  28. Wun Hung Lo

    Under and over...

    Being lucky enough to live in the ancient town of Stamford in Lincolnshire, I see foreign-registered HGVs crossing our architectural gem of a bridge over the River Welland every day. They are taking a sat-nav generated route to the A1. The weight restriction on this bridge is 7.5 tonnes, and it's only a matter of time before two of these twats cross the bridge together and the whole lot will collapse into the river.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Could it be...

    ...that because they're using satnav they haven't a clue where they are? Therefore, when they get into difficulties there's quite an incentive to keep going and hope it all turns out OK, rather than stop and be completely lost and unable to find an alternative route.

    That's why I use a map. It's full of alternative routes that are easy to select - the key difference, I think.

  30. Andrew Norton

    its all about stupid people

    I've seen plenty of stupid drivers. i've grown up in the UK, and driven all over the UK and used a very nice map, a nice comprehensive map. I rarely got lost, and when I did, it was because my passenger didn't know how to read it. If I was driving solo though, I'd plan my route beforehand, and write out turn by turn directions in BIG LETTERS on paper next to me, and include the map reference points as well, if I stop. It worked well, and i rarely got lost.

    I live in the US now, and again, rarely get lost. It's mainly spacial awareness

    I had a friend who just qualified as a truck driver 18 months ago, and I kitted out his cab with all his electrics for him, and off he went on a weeks run, with his map book. When he was on the road, he bought a USB GPS unit, and truck mapping software. He felt it was easier to do this, and it supposedly keeps track of where the areas are that truck's can't pass. however despite the software being able to accept driver amendments, and upload them, the drivers have to pay to get everyone else's updates. Yes, the company charges for everyone else's work updating the map.

    Myself, I got given a usb gps unit a few months back, and have used it twice. Mostly I use it as a check on my speedo (so i'm sure when the speedo says 60mph, the car's actually doign 55), but sometimes if it's a place I've never beento, it's a check. last week I used it to drive in and through Atlanta, avoiding all the bad traffic spots I know of during evening rushhour (the interstates). My MS streets and trips is a little off (nothing more annoying that hearing 'off route' when you're between junctions on a road).

    90% of the time, the GPS unit stays in the glove box, they're just not that usefull. If you're going to a specific address in an area you've never been, it's got its uses, but I don't slavishly trust it. Mostly, it's a check, and any decent program will allow for recalculation if you go off-route, but very few allow for blocking an area off. (a feature i found very handy in autoroute for my Amiga - often when on a M6 to london run, so i'd take me the M5 way to the M40, rather than the other way around Brum.

    hell, they could even make weight-cameras, not hard to take the piezo-strip camera concept, and make it a weighbridge-based camera. That would require, though, a 'safety camera partnership' to actually focus on safety, though, which is a bit outside their area of knowledge.

  31. b166er

    Another case of


    Mines the one with SiRFstar on the back.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point

    The LibDems have somewhat missed the point here.

    As many have pointed out, the problem is often not the satnav but the idiot at the wheel.

    When it's a car, it's bad enough (eg see BBC report mentioned earlier).

    But when it's a 30+ tonne HGV, tractor/trailer rig, whatever, it's well beyond a joke.

    Very few roads in Britain were ever designed for the currently permitted 40+ tonne truckers. If the heavies were confined solely to the roads which *were* designed for the current weights and dimensions of HGVs (a few motorways and some recent dual carriageways), the whole of Britain would be a cleaner safer quieter place.

    Typical UK high streets were never designed for 40 tonne artics, so why does the average high street shop get its deliveries on a 40+ tonne HGV? There's very little that can't be delivered just as conveniently by a quieter less damaging more manouverable light goods vehicle, though that would often mean (horror of horrors) actually employing more people to drive the things.

    The GLC HGV ban was one of Red Ken's best ideas, shame the RHA/FTA drove coach and horses through it.

    If Lord "Two Resignations" Mandelson had spared LDV enough money from Gordon's bank bailout disaster fund so LDV could have lasted a couple more years they could even have sold quite a few electric urban-area delivery vehicles - which would have been a laugh given that their predecessors, Lucas Chloride Electric Vehicles (also in Birmingham) tried (and sadly didn't quite succeed) with an electric Bedford CF (think Transit) back in the early 1980s.

    As for the idea of the Msomething->M40->M6->A55 (and other trunk route combinations) being used as a freight route from Europe to and from the whole of the UK/Ireland (as any regular M40 user will know) - ffs, put the non-urgent stuff (ie 98% of it) on the trains (or even on ships!), and keep the stupid truckers confined to countries where their steering wheels are on the appropriate side so they can see what's in their way before they pull out to overtake, let them stay in coutnries where they stand a chance of realising the difference between feet, miles, and metres on the signs!

  33. Apocalypse Later

    Ever thus

    Long before satnav, Oxford bus drivers would regularly jam double decker buses under the bridge by the railroad station. Somehow, the fact that the double deckers just didn't fit under that bridge could not effectively be drummed into either the drivers or the dispatchers. Eventually little signs were fitted in the passenger areas of all the double deckers saying "This bus will not go under the Station Road bridge", in hope that the passengers would realise the danger and be able to raise the alarm in time. I believe in recent years the buses themselves have been specially built, a bit shorter than standard double deckers, but I no longer live in the area, so am not up to date.

  34. Jonny2284

    Blame the drivers.

    As someone who works in transport I know first hand that these (usually polish) prats often don't know how tall their unit and trailer is, dodgy satnav data is just one in a long line of "excuses", if that didn't fly the next one would just be them shrugging and saying "No English" while pointing at the sign giving the height of the bridge.

    Fun fact, I just quizzed the three drivers at my window, two of the companies invovled don't issue satnavs, the other one does, guess which one recently had a 2.8m trailer turned into a flatbed?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if these guys...

    ...were using satnav?

  36. weirdcult

    theres a song in there somewhere

    Sat nav don't kill people, truckers do.......

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What title?

    I used to live in Lenham in Kent. There's a large truck depot there and it's regularly used as a night time stop for truckers using the M20. Unfortunately, just north of Lenham is a low railway bridge on the A20, so trucker heading south on the M20 are instructed to carry on a junction to Ashford and come back the other way on the A20.

    Naturally then, that bridge was hit at least once a week by truckers who managed to miss:

    1) The black motorway signs (instructions for HGV drivers)

    2) The warning signs on the A20 (low bridge ahead)

    3) The specific height signs nearer the bridge (in feet AND meters)

    4) The matrix sign just before the bridge which activates when it detects a vehicle too tall to pass under the bridge.

    This is not the Sat-Navs fault. It's the fault of the drivers who managed to ignore no less than four sets of warning signs, which all somehow managed to accurately predict the future.

  38. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Is it just me ...

    that thinks it might be a neat idea if the various public bodies (highways authorities, local councils, railway track operators, etc, etc) got together and formulated a common database of hazzards/restrictions ? Ideally a worldwide standard - but I'm not holding my breath on that.

    Perhaps if there was a database of road widths, bridge heights, weight restrictions, etc, etc, then sat-nav manufacturers (or rather their map suppliers) would use it. Surely it would be more reliable is the railway companies supplied (and kept up to date) a database of their bridges than relying on random users to do it ?

    And of course, if the sat-nav vendors didn't try and rip people off for map updates that don't include fixes for errors notified by users several years ago, perhaps a few units might actually get updated every now and then - rather than never.

  39. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    Retarded drivers

    A bad workman always blames his tools.. seriously.. it doesn't take a degree to realise the bridge is too low for your vehicle... or to stop if their isn't a bridge even IF the friendly sat-nav insists their is..

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