Sat nav blamed for taking HGVs through village community
HUGE articulated lorries are causing blockages in a village community near Cheltenham as drivers blindly follow their on-board sat-navs.
Residents in Gambles Lane, on Cleeve Hill, said the vehicles, many of them weighing more than 10 tonnes, have caused untold damage as they tried to squeeze through the narrow route, which is unsuitable for heavy goods traffic due to its steep gradient.
Grass verges have been left churned up and roadside walls damaged, with other road users left facing long delays as the stranded behemoths leave the route impassable.
Gordon Ruffle, who lives in Gambles Lane, said a lorry from Hungary had to be towed up the hill last week after getting stuck on its way to Postlip paper mill in Winchcombe.
The 61-year-old added: "The driver had ignored signs at the bottom of the lane saying it was unsuitable for vehicles over 4.5 tonnes.
"He got about half way up and then realised he couldn't get any further. A number of motorists trying to get through had to reverse as there was nowhere for them to pass.
"I spoke to the driver, and he said he was just following his sat-nav."
Mr Ruffle said it was a common issue in the village as lorry drivers tried to cut through from the A435 to get to Winchcombe.
He added: "It's a problem in many communities and it happens on a regular basis here.
"Drivers appear not to understand the road signs or rely too much on their sat-nav."
The issue of HGVs blighting villages has affected other communities around Cheltenham.
Two lorries were recently reported to have got stuck half way up steep Bushcombe Lane and residents in Duntisbourne Abbots, near Cirencester, have frequently complained sat-nav directs oversized vehicles through its narrow lanes.
Parishioners in Leckhampton even set up a Lorry Watch group in 2010 after HGV drivers persistently flouted weight restrictions in Church Road.
Transport officers at Gloucestershire County Council said they passed information of sat-nav problem areas on to Ordnance Survey, so that it could be given to the manufacturers of the machines.
Stephen Harvey, managing director of the Sat Nav Company, said the vast majority of the time problems were caused by human error.
He said: "Nine times out of 10 when a lorry gets stuck on an inappropriate route, it's because the driver is using a car sat-nav instead of an HGV sat- nav. An HGV sat-nav requires the driver to enter the dimensions and weight of the vehicle before the start of the journey and, if that is done properly, it would never take him down a narrow country lane.
"In my opinion there should be tighter rules dictating that HGV drivers have the correct equipment because these vehicles can cause a lot of damage if they end up in the wrong place."