The Freight Transport Association is asking suppliers to produce satellite navigation systems which are more compatible with freight operations. Mapping software customarily supplied with sat-nav units assumes the vehicle being driven is able to navigate the selected route legally, safely and without inconveniencing the local community and other road users. That is probably a safe assumption for cars and light vans but, in too many cases, the selected routes are proving inappropriate for larger vehicles and there have been a number of cases of heavy lorries being guided to inappropriate locations, leaving them unable to go forward or to turn around.
FTA is inviting the mapping and telematics industry to remedy this situation before any more goodwill is lost to the public, or the Government decides to take action because of misdirected vehicles. The Association has identified a list of data items that its members say are necessary and useful additions to a standard sat-nav system. These include:
Vehicle width restrictions
Vehicle height restrictions
Vehicle length restrictions
HGV restrictions (pedestrianised areas and local lorry bans) Kerbside loading and unloading restrictions Time of day (relating to restrictions) Recommended lorry routes Ability to specify trunk roads or motorways Adequate predictability of possible access problems in time to allow diversionary action by drivers Location of lorry parks and driver facilities Location of public weighbridges
FTA's Policy Director, James Hookham said, 'There are too many stories of lorries getting stuck or using inappropriate roads because of sat-nav systems, and there is a lot more suppliers can do to make their systems more useful to the commercial vehicle driver. However, we must never forget that ultimately, whether in a lorry or a car, the driver should not just rely on instructions from his sat-nav, but must use his own common sense. Blindly following the advice of an inanimate computer is not always the best policy!
'Delivery vehicles do a great job in bringing goods to the doorstep of companies and consumers every day and we want to make this as safe and efficient as possible, and avoid the distress and inconvenience of large lorries using unsuitable roads.'
The Freight Transport Association represents the interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 200,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight.