August 29, 2007 / 12:58 PM / 10 years ago

Drivers warned: Don't trust your Sat Navs

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s first official road signs to warn drivers about the dangers of trusting their satellite navigation devices (satnavs) were introduced on Tuesday in a Welsh village.

<p>A sign in South Wales warning drivers about the dangers of trusting their satellite navigation devices in an undated image. The signs, introduced by authorities in rural St Hilary, in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, to warn drivers about placing too much faith in the directional gadgets, could be brought in across the country if the trial is successful. REUTERS/Handout</p>

The signs, introduced by authorities in rural St Hilary, in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, to warn drivers about placing too much faith in the directional gadgets, could be brought in across the country if the trial is successful.

Problems were reported after foreign drivers found it difficult to understand phrases such as “unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles” but could understand pictorial notices, media reported.

The four signs have been introduced around one particular black spot in the village, where the electronic devices direct truck drivers to a shortcut between the main M4 motorway and Cardiff airport.

The road is far too narrow for many to travel down, causing them to get stuck and sparking major traffic problems.

More than a dozen large lorries had become stuck in the road in the past six months, according to traffic engineer Mark Simpson who came up with the idea for the signs.

“We have had a series of problems with drivers getting into trouble by trusting their satnavs and we needed to do something about it,” Simpson was quoted in newspapers as saying.

“They can send drivers on the most direct routes which turn out to be narrow roads completely unsuitable for heavy and long trucks and lorries. Satnav can be a wonderful tool for drivers but it does have its dangers.”

If successful, officials plan a national roll-out of the signs to combat what is seen as a growing problem for frustrated motorists, with recent figures showing that more than four million of Britain’s 32 million drivers rely on satnavs.

Some have reported that software glitches have sent drivers down one-way streets or up impassable mountain tracks.

One ambulance driver with a faulty satnav drove hundreds of miles in the wrong direction while transferring a patient from one hospital in Ilford east of London to another just 8 miles

away.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly regional government said that officials would be “watching closely” the trial’s results before deciding whether to expand the program.

He also said that officials from Britain’s Department of Transport had been consulted and were also monitoring the experiment.

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