Truck drivers reliant on SatNav systems a danger to other road users, judge says
Posted on 19th May 2021 at 20:31
Foreign truck drivers relying on SatNav systems to find their way around Ireland are a serious danger on the roads, a judge has warned.
After hearing a case involving a foreign truck driver using a Sat Nav crashing into another lorry in north Co Cork, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it was clear to him that truck drivers were all too often relying on SatNav systems.
“Driving by SatNav is common but lethal. The number of times that non-national articulated lorry drivers can been seen doing it is worrying and this is an example of the results of SatNav driving,” he said.
The judge made his comments in the case of Jiri Hrudres (30), from Louwska, Zatac, Czech Republic, who was involved in a serious collision two years ago.
Hrudes pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to driving without due care and attention, thereby causing seriously bodily harm to truck driver Tomasz Machon at Ballymaquirke Cross near Kanturk on March 5th, 2019.
Det Garda Brendan Dunne told the court that Hrudes was driving in Ireland for the first time and was due to make a delivery to Newmarket but had taken the wrong road. He was due to travel to Mallow via the N22 but was instead relying on SatNav and had come through Banteer and was exiting onto the main N72 at Ballymaquirke Cross when the collision happened.
Rather than yielding at a stop sign, he collided with a milk tanker being driven by Mr Machon heading east towards Mallow. Mr Machon was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured skull, broken bones in his face, a fracture to his neck as well as a knee injury and spent 16 days in hospital.
Det Garda Dunne submitted a Victim Impact Statement to the court on behalf of Mr Machon, who had 20 years experience as a driver and said he bore no ill will to Hrudes. He expressed the hope Hrudes would learn from the experience.
Det Garda Dunne said gardaí investigated the collision and arrested and interviewed Hrudes, who was uninjured but in shock. He admitted that he was relying on his SatNav at the time of the collision as he had gotten lost.
Hrudes was co-operative and admitted he had limited experience of driving in Ireland and said a stop sign at the junction must have been obscured by trees. He later accepted this was not the case when shown a photo of the sign.
Ray Boland BL, defending, said Hrudes had admitted making an error. He said that realising the mistake a short distance from the junction, and knowing he could not stop in time, he tried to drive through it quickly.
However, he failed to clear the junction before the oncoming milk tanker and ended up hitting it.
Judge Ó Donnabháin noted that Hrudes had accepted responsibility for the collision and that he had returned from the Czech Republic for the case, which was to his credit. He also accepted that Hrudes was properly insured.
But he said that foreign truck drivers, particularly those driving articulated lorries and relying on SatNav to get them to their destination in Ireland when they were unfamiliar with the roads, was clearly a worrying problem.
“Perhaps SatNav put him (Hrudes) on the wrong road but he went through a very busy junction without seeing or obeying the sign and causing the collision - the negligence was in effect driving by Sat Nav,” he said.
The judge noted that Hrudes had no previous convictions and sentenced him to 18 months in jail but suspended the sentence in its entirety and disqualified him from driving for four years.
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