The problem of lorries striking low or narrow bridges, causing hold-ups on the road, disruption to train services and costing millions of pounds every year to repair, could be drastically reduced according to the sat nav expert Garmin. It comes after a recent report by the Office of Rail Regulation found that nearly 2000 railway bridges across Britain were hit by vehicles in 2008.
Now Garmin has launched a new version of its sat nav designed specifically for lorry drivers. The nüvi(R) 465TF is able to help lorry drivers avoid low bridges, narrow lanes and small villages because it can store the truck’s dimensions and help reroute journeys away from restricted areas.
Official figures from Network Rail confirmed that between April 2008 and March 2009, 1725 of their bridges were hit by vehicles with over two thirds of these bridge strikes involving large goods vehicles.
Figures in the ‘National Rail Trends Year Book 2008-2009’ produced by the Office of Rail Regulations showed bridge strikes have increased by more than 61% from just 885 a decade ago to 2285 in 2007. In 2008/9 it saw numbers fall for the first time to 1982 strikes – a decrease of 13.3% from the previous year.
It was also estimated that between April 2008 and March 2009, 119 days were lost due to delays on the rail network due to bridge strikes. Although this figure includes all delays including freight, passenger journeys accounted for the vast majority of time lost. This figure is however 22% lower than the same period the previous year due to management of the risk by Network Rail.
Amongst the most hit bridges in 2008 were three in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The Springfield Road, Harlaxton Road and Barrowby Road bridges were hit more than 65 times in 2008. However, this year the accolade was passed to a bridge over Latchmere Road near Clapham Junction with over 19 bridge strikes in less than three months.
Garmin’s Colin Lee said; “Sat navs play a vital role in the modern truck driver’s life helping to ensure millions of destinations a year are reached safely and quickly. Most sat navs are designed for cars rather than lorries though. The fact that certain bridges are actually getting a reputation for being hit made us look at how we could provide a better solution to this problem.
Adding; “Our mapping supplier Navteq released its first lorry-specific map this year and we’ve been working hard to integrate the information into our first sat nav for lorry drivers. The nüvi 465TF allows lorry drivers to enter their vehicle’s dimensions, weight and load, and the advanced software will route them away from low bridges, narrow lanes or restricted areas.”
In other parts of the country, desperate residents have installed signs to stop lorry drivers getting stuck down narrow roads following sat navs, The ‘No HGV’ signs have been installed in areas where motorists regularly face delays or where trucks are constantly getting stuck. The signs, some of which have symbols rather than words on them are designed to help non-English speaking drivers.
Road Haulage Association spokesperson Chrys Rampley agreed: “Sat navs are wonderful for drivers in unfamiliar territory but they still need to pay attention to the environment and road signs around them. Foreign drivers are particularly reliant on sat navs but they also need to improve their understanding of the British roads.
Adding; “We welcome advances in new technology and hope the solution from Garmin will help reduce the number of bridge strikes, disruption to the road and rail networks, and help our members navigate safely to their destination.”
A guide to avoiding bridge strikes produced by the Bridge Strike Prevention Group of which
both Network Rail and RHA are members can be downloaded from www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/3563.aspx.
Garmin Europe Ltd