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Photos: Sat-nav blunder sees lorry driver wedge HGV between house and church wall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

  • The lorry, driven by a Polish driver, is wedged between a house and a churchyard wall. Photo: Mark Passmore/APEX

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A blundering lorry driver wedged his vehicle between a house and a churchyard wall in an Exmoor village, closing the road and damaging the house after a sat-nav error.

The vehicle, which belongs to Polish firm Skat, became stuck between two walls in Sanctuary Lane, Brompton Regis, Somerset at about 7pm on Thursday.

It is believed to have been carrying paper to a mill in Watchet.

The Highways Agency was yesterday attempting to recover the lorry and the road was expected to remain closed all day.

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The 44-tonne articulated lorry’s back wheels have blown and it is resting on its rims.

Kevin Steer said the lorry was embedded in the side of his house, and had caused considerable damage, including ripping off guttering, slates, and electric cable.

Mr Steer said: “I was in the house at the time – it sounded like shotguns going off as both his tyres exploded when they were ripped by some stones.

“The driver is Polish and doesn’t speak a word of English. He stayed in his cab all night in his sleeping quarters.

“This is a regular occurrence that large lorries come through the village, and normally they just take the guttering off,” he said.

“Most drivers don’t stop but two years ago I chased a lorry down the Exe Valley in my car and had to drive in front of it to block the road because the driver wouldn’t stop.

“I’ve contacted the Highways Agency about this before and they seem to think it’s difficult to stop them coming through.

“They’re very reluctant to put bollards in or anything to protect the house. I have a £150 excess on my insurance – it makes me cross if I’m lumped with £150 every time.

“Normally the lorries don’t stop and I have to foot the cost of putting back the guttering each time.”

Mr Steer said he thought lorries were being directed through the village by satellite navigation equipment and said companies should consider an alternative route.

He said: “I think it’s high time that there should be a separate system solely for lorry drivers, to stop them going down these narrow, undriveable roads.”

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  • eyeopener  |  February 03 2013, 7:28PM

    Why invent new signs? We already have signs for weight limits, which is the obvious way to exclude such vehicles as well as signs that say "Unsuitable for HGV's" and others to state a roads maximum width. Its hard to imagine the road had none of these. If the driver had told a policeman that he committed a traffic offence through reliance on his sat-nav the officer would on that basis charge him/her with 'driving without due care and attention'. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  February 03 2013, 1:56PM

    Perhaps the signpost could be changed to a danger sign with a picture of an HGV with a line through it, then there can be no excuse for not being able to read English. These small side roads/lanes were never designed to take large vehicles, although I suspect large tractor units use them.

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  • eyeopener  |  February 03 2013, 12:45AM

    This is not a Sat Nav error it is a map reading error. he simply didn't look at a map. When you drive an articulated lorry you keep as far as possible to 'A' roads to avoid such predicaments. When a vehicle is as long as an articulated lorry the road only has to have a kink or bend, and suddenly the road is too narrow. Stone walls down country roads often have have bulges. If it has been raining, your wheel has only to stray onto the grass verge for the rain sodden verge to give way; and allow the weight of your vehicle push you down into a ditch. Nowadays most domestic sat-navs can accept downloadable software to warn of low bridges, weight restrictions, and narrow roads. Why would anyone with a vehicle that size not have left the M5 and followed an A road such as the A39 or A358 to reach Watchett? In this instance, not even being foreign is an excuse. Road signs are harmonised across Europe. The only explanation is that the driver was too lazy to buy a map book to augment his sat nav. Don't blame the sat-nav, blame the driver.

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  • jamespotter  |  February 02 2013, 4:35PM

    the tyres that are burst appear to on the trailer and this would have been caused by hitting the high kerb/wall. however this incident highlights the problems u.k. truck drivers all too often comes across with foreign drivers where the driving test standards are not as high as they are in this country. u.k. employers are often using e.u. nationals as a means of cheap labour, when many of these drivers lack the training and many of them can't (or won't) speak english, creating many problems with health and safety, and driving standards.

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  • siarad2  |  February 02 2013, 3:14PM

    "I've contacted the Highways Agency about this before and they seem to think it's difficult to stop them coming through." What rubbish! this should be classed a sub-standard road as with exceptionally low bridges & the max vehicle width specified. How can we have foreign drivers who can't read signs anyway. However maybe this guttering extends over the road causing the problem, not in this case obviously. What an idiot driver who appears to have revved his tyres to destruction lets hope he gets a big fine. It would appear good relations for the mill to signpost but maybe planners will object.

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  • jamespotter  |  February 02 2013, 1:39PM

    There is a system for truck drivers, but most truck companies won't meet the cost (anywhere from £250.00 upwards) but you cannot legislate for a person who blindly follows the device without looking at the road and thinking 'this won't fit down there'. I drive a truck of that size and agree the sat nav directs you this way to the paper mill, but it is obvious to most people that the road is not suitable for lgv, however this is a common problem with foreign truck drivers who are not used to our roads. Perhaps the paper mill should be asked to signpost a truck route to the mill.

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