Traffic Commissioners put out satnav advice

Taking note of recent bridge strike incidents, the Office of the Traffic Commissioners (OTC) has issued satnav guidance.

The OTC cites the figure of 1,624 bridge strikes on the Network Rail infrastructure alone in 2020/21. Following a bridge strike in St. Helens, the traffic commissioner held a public inquiry and concluded that the primary cause of the incident was the driver’s failure to carry out his responsibilities in a professional manner. His HGV driver’s licence was revoked, and he was disqualified from holding an HGV licence for six months.The Traffic Commissioner also found that the operator could have done more to prevent the incident and the operator found their licence permanently curtailed.

According to the OTC, one of the reasons for these incidences occurring is poor route planning and the reliance on inappropriate satnav systems, which lack commercial functionality to warn the driver of all the critical points on routes.

To help avoid similar incidents, the OTC has issued the following guidance on commercial vehicle satnav use:

  • Make sure your satnav is a commercial vehicle satnav, not one designed for a car. Make sure your device is up to date. Roads and maps are constantly changing. It is your responsibility to plan correctly.
  • Make sure that if satnavs are provided to drivers, they are trained to use them and, importantly, the correct checks and procedures are in place to ensure they do.
  • Have a satnav policy within your operation. Set rules for use of personal satnavs and ensure they are fit for purpose.
  • Do not assume you know the restrictions on a road, check first.
  • Double check on an up-to-date map. You could use Google Street Views to get a sight of an unfamiliar route or junction, including delivery or pick up points.
  • Know your vehicle height, width and weight, and ensure your drivers do
  • Even when your vehicle is ‘not in service’ your route must still be planned. Taking unsuitable shortcuts back to the depot or when going for maintenance is a risk

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