Sunday, 16 January 2011

Don't Trust The Satnav Or The Great British Public

"Have you seen the news about the bus driver taking the school trip to Snowdonia?" said one of the drivers. "He relied on his satnav, ignored the road signs warning of an unsuitable road for big vehicles and continued on, bashing into walls and knocking over fences, with all the children screaming behind him."

It's something I dread. Having experienced it once, in my early bus driving days, when the mummies on a toddler group trip, took me down a road which was too narrow for the bus. I just got out but there were several dents and I had to pick up the twisted metal wheel trim which was torn off by one of the stone walls. There too, the noise of burning rubber from the wheel spin, grating metal and screaming children is something you never forget.

"Are you sure you've taken a bus down here before?" I'd asked the organiser on the way down to the picnic area.

"Of course, many times."

"You're really sure you've taken a big bus down here before?" I asked again, following the disaster.

"Of course, many times. But they might have been mini buses."

I felt empathy with the driver in Snowdonia. He may have had a moment of gross misjudgement, but if he was like me, your legs turn to jelly and you break out in a cold sweat. It is a harrowing experience.

The subject of road signs is a long involved one. There has been a proliferation of signs of all shapes and sizes on British roads over the last ten years and I find I have to keep my wits about me. An added problem is that many of the signs on the rural routes have been vandalised, shot, covered over by shrubbery or stolen.

So satnavs and the great British public can be unpredictable when it comes to giving directions to bus drivers.

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