If you’re an avid reader of certain tabloids (not naming names), you may have seen some of the commotion that’s being stirred up after a ‘spate’ of HGV drivers have been causing issues by driving into low bridges. These accidents are being blamed on drivers blindly following their sat navs instead of working out some alternate routes. This has resulted in those same tabloids calling for HGV drivers to be banned from using sat nav at all. As trainers of HGV drivers from all walks of life, we wanted to explain why it’s essential for HGV drivers to have access to sat navs, and explain why this small number of incidents may have happened.
This particular question could be summed up in one simple sentence. Because they don’t know how to get everywhere. While it is true that HGV drivers spend a lot of time on the road and probably do know a lot of routes most normal drivers don’t, they can’t possibly know every route to every location they may have to drive to in the country. The alternative to using sat navs is using paper based road maps, which would only lead to more driver distraction on the road as they try to figure out where they’re going. Sat Navs are one of the reasons HGV drivers can make their deliveries to the right place, on time.
One of the things that hasn’t been talked about in these articles is the fact that there are specialist sat nav systems out there for HGV drivers. This is because your garden variety sat nav is programmed to work for cars, not for HGVs. Instead, HGV sat navs work by calculating the routes they offer based on a selection of relevant criteria, such as your vehicles height, weight, length, width and load. Drivers are able to program this information in before each trip, and the system will then offer a selection of appropriate routes. This means that a HGV sat nav will not tell the driver to take a route that includes a low bride or weak roads. They typically also come installed with larger screens and a specialised points of interest databases that can find specific places where you can park your HGV at night.
Problems like the ones currently being reported come about when HGV drivers don’t use one of these specialist systems, instead opting to use a standard car sat nav. This could be because HGV systems are slightly more expensive, or their training didn’t cover it so they don’t even know they exist. So when they program in a route, the system will offer the best route for a car, ignoring issues like low or weak bridges or restricted access roads. The guidance and tools are out there to avoid these incidents, and responsible HGV drivers are using them – it is a minority of drivers who are giving the rest of the profession a bad name by not using what is readily available and right for the job.
Of course, like in any profession, there will always be those who cut corners and try to save time or money, and it is usually those individuals who end up driving into low bridges and causing accidents. At the HGV Training Centre we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality of training to all of our student drivers, including what tools are available to them. For more information on the courses we offer and the topics we cover, get in touch with our expert instructors today.
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