May 4, 2022
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When driving a satnav can be an essential piece of equipment to help you reach your destination, with the latest devices able to monitor traffic reports and update routes to avoid delays. However a quick internet search will produce plenty of examples of drivers getting into trouble after following satnav instructions down inappropriate roads, onto railway lines or even into rivers.

As amusing as these images of misdirected drivers may be, there are also health and safety implications for those involved not to mention potential costs whether this is recovering a stuck vehicle, repairing damage caused or prosecutions for motoring offences.

Where larger vehicles, HGV’s, buses, coaches etc are involved, the potential for harm can be significantly increased and the worst cases of inappropriate route planning could see a transport business losing their operator’s licence. Network Rail report that in the 2020/21 period there were 1624 incidents of bridge strikes on their infrastructure alone.

The Transport Commissioners for Great Britain recently published guidance on route planning and the use of satnavs for operators of larger vehicles. This guidance can be found on the Gv.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/is-your-satnav-fit-for-purpose

Some key points include:

  • Make sure your satnav is a commercial vehicle satnav, not one designed for a car and that your device is up to date. There are specialist systems for larger vehicles that take into account known overhead obstructions, even so the road network is constantly changing and maps need to be kept up to date.
  • Where satnavs are provided drivers should be trained to use them correctly. A company policy should be in place for the use of satnavs.
  • Make sure drivers know their vehicle heights and where necessary provide height conversion charts.
  • Remember to plan all routes, including out of service trips e.g. when taking a vehicle for maintenance / repair or returning empty to the office.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using [email protected]  if you have any questions or would like assistance with developing policies and procedures for managing occupational road risks.

Note: Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, and the registration of local bus services.