- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 1658 Hour
- Reading permission
the whole extra miles 4you...
Originally posted by hellovivien at 12/10/07 10:27 AM
*now, you know why some of us don't rely 2much on GPS
December 4, 2007
Turn Back. Exit Village. Truck Shortcut Hitting Barrier.
By SARAH LYALL
WEDMORE, England, Nov. 28 — This little village would seem to be an obviously poor place through which to drive your average large truck. It is in an obscure, rural location. Its streets were built in the days of horses and carts. There is no room to pass and no room to maneuver.
But trucks and tractor-trailers come here all the time, as they do in similarly inappropriate spots across Britain, directed by G.P.S. navigation devices that fail to appreciate that the shortest route is not always the best route.
“They have no idea where they are,” said Wayne Hahn, a local store owner who watches a daily parade of vehicles come to grief — hitting fences, shearing mirrors from cars and becoming stuck at the bottom of Wedmore’s lone hill. Once, he saw an enormous tractor-trailer speeding by, unaware that in its wake it was dragging a passenger car, complete with distraught passenger.
With villagers at wits’ end, John Sanderson, chairman of the parish council, has proposed a seemingly simple remedy: removing the route through Wedmore from the G.P.S. navigation systems used by large vehicles.
“We’d like them to have appropriate systems that would show some routes weren’t suitable for H.G.V.’s,” Mr. Sanderson said, using shorthand for heavy goods vehicles.
Mr. Sanderson said he would not go so far as to advocate eradicating Wedmore from the map. But communities in similar predicaments — and there are hundreds of them, given that Britain is replete with tiny rural villages similarly ill-suited for big trucks — say that such a solution sounds good to them.
“We’ve said, ‘Just take us off the map,’ actually,” said Geoff Coombs, chairman of the parish council in Barrow Gurney, a village that, despite being too small to have a sidewalk, is host to some 15,000 vehicles a day, cars as well as larger vehicles, whose G.P.S. systems identify it as a good alternative route to Bristol Airport.
But that is easier said than done.
“We map the reality — the streets, the signposts and the road infrastructure as it is in reality,” said Dirk Snauwaert, a spokesman for Tele Atlas, which provides digital maps to portable navigation systems. “We cannot change that reality in our database. Who are we to make a change and say, ‘You cannot drive in that road’ if, in reality, you can drive in that road.”
Mr. Snauwaert said it was up to local communities to make it clear what roads were not appropriate for trucks, and to install signs saying so. The relevant information, including things like height, width and weight constraints, could then eventually be integrated into the databases used for G.P.S. devices, he said.
It may take months, if not years, to make the next step: manufacturing G.P.S. devices for trucks — or lorries, as they call them here — that take into account the more sophisticated information. But local governments are working to compile the data.
“If we can get the right information, then we can start re-routing the lorries,” said Richard Matthews, the senior transport planner for Somerset County Council, which is taking the lead in pushing for a countrywide approach. In a survey of local governments, Somerset found that 82 percent of communities had experienced G.P.S.-related traffic problems.
“I’ve just come from a community today where a lorry had literally lifted the roof off a house as it tried to get past,” Mr. Matthews said.
Some communities have begun putting up signs warning drivers to ignore their G.P.S. devices on rural roads. But signs seem to be less and less effective as people increasingly rely more on G.P.S. systems and less on maps, common sense or their own eyes.
“We’ve heard some very hilarious stories where people just blindly follow the sat nav instructions,” said Vince Yearley, a spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, using British shorthand for “satellite navigation.” “Like if the sat nav says, ‘Drive into this muddy field,’ they think, ‘That’s weird,’ but they do it anyway.”
As for trucks getting lost, much of the problem is caused by truck drivers from other countries — more than 14,000 a day — who come from abroad with G.P.S. devices but without maps or an ability to read English road signs, said Geoff Dossetter, a spokesman for the Freight Transport Association, which represents road haulers.
“Foreign drivers very much depend on sat nav systems when they’re coming to a different country, and they are following them rather more blindly than they ought to,” Mr. Dossetter said.
Last month, a Slovakian truck driver arrived in Dover, bound for Wales with 22 tons of paper. But, directed off the highway and onto increasingly narrow roads by his navigation system, he ended up wedged on a tiny lane between two houses in Mereworth, a village in Kent, whereupon he had a panic attack, jumped out of his truck, and burst into tears.
“He got back in his lorry and tried to maneuver his way out, but he was starting to scrape against the front walls,” Mark Siggers, a resident, told a local newspaper. He also knocked down the village’s power cables, cutting off the electricity. It took the authorities several days to remove his mangled truck.
In Wedmore, residents cite a grim litany of incidents. Mr. Hahn, the store owner, said a passing truck once knocked into his wall, causing $1,500 worth of damage. Dorothea North, who is 84 and has lived here for decades, had her front gate ripped from its hinges by a truck barreling around the corner. Before she had a chance to fix it, another truck hit it again.
And Suzie Ladbrooke, a charity fund-raiser who lives on Church Street, said the side mirrors had been broken off her parked car several times by passing trucks. Once, her husband’s parked car was hit and totaled by a truck that drove away before anyone took down the license number. On another occasion, a too-large truck became immobilized on Church Street, unable to go forward, unable to back up.
“He was honking his horn and shaking his fist,” she said. “I went out to his lorry and I said, ‘Sat nav?’”