Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Stop the World...

...they want to get off:
"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 GPS 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 Dick Snauwaert, a spokesman for Tele Atlas, which provides digital maps to portable navigation systems. "We cannot change that reality in our data base. Who are we to make a change and say, 'You cannot drive in that road' if, in reality, you can drive in that road."

Snauwaert said that 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 data bases used for GPS devices, he said.

...."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 far as trucks getting lost, much of the problem is caused by truck drivers from foreign countries - more than 14,000 a day - who come from abroad with GPS 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," 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 the village of Mereworth, in Kent, whereupon he 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," a resident, Mark Siggers, 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 now-mangled truck.

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