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Satnav mishap misery cure promised at confab

Govt will bang heads together to push latest maps to drivers

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Ever get that sinking feeling after your satnav misdirects your car into a ditch? Relax, the government is wading in to help stressed-out drivers get more accurate information from the road-mapping devices.

A summit will kick off in March ahead of local authorities being given more powers to have a bigger say about how their roads appear on satnavs and maps. According to the Department for Transport, part of the problem for drivers is that map updates take many months to filter through from local councils to satnavs.

That means motorists sometimes end up on the wrong road, and local residents get "inappropriate traffic on their doorsteps", the DfT added.

Meanwhile, many drivers apparently fail to update their satnavs to gain access to the latest road-mapping data. Local transport minister Norman Baker is calling on highway authorities, mapping providers and satnav vendors to work more closely together.

“Out of date directions mean misdirected traffic – a scourge of local communities. It is vital highway authorities, mapping companies and satnav manufacturers work more closely together to provide drivers with accurate, up-to-date information on traffic restrictions such as narrow roads or low bridges," said Baker.

“This will help prevent huge lorries from being sent down inappropriate roads and ensure motorists are given the best possible directions.

“The summit is timely because from April 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.”

The government is hoping that the power handed to local authorities will help prevent "misery" for lorry drivers who follow satnav directions and end up stuck in narrow roads.

Quite a few unfortunates, guided only by their satnavs and presumably no commonsense whatsoever, have fallen victim to satnav blindness. These include a student who totalled her car on a level crossing, a woman who plunged a £96k Mercedes into a river, and a Doncaster man who very nearly drove himself off a cliff. Ouch! ®

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