Last month, TomTom and Garmin hit the news headlines in the US when a lawsuit was filed against them by survivors of road traffic collision that left ten seriously injured and one person paralysed after a coach hit a low bridge.
The lawsuit alleges that the makers of the GPS devices were a critical factor in the crash because their devices did not take into account the height of the vehicle or offer any warning about height restrictions. The lawsuit also names the bus driver, coach operator, coach manufacturer and the local highway agency as defendants, as well as several other parties.
This is without doubt, a very unpleasant event where at least one life has been changed immeasurably, but beyond the story of human tragedy, a can of worms has been opened affecting all sorts of organisations.
As part of the law suit, the prosecuting team brought to light that there are hundreds of such crashes every year in the US - citing 200 alone in New York State. The defence appears to be taking the approach that if so many events take place annually, shouldn't 'someone' have done something about it by now. Hence the reason for listing such a breadth of defendants.
The issue of course, is who is really to blame? One the surface, arguably the driver is at fault. He had two satnavs, neither specifically for commercial vehicles. On the other hand, did the satnavs come from the coach operator and he simply was following instructions?
Or should TomTom and Garmin make it abundantly clear that non-commercial devices are for cars only? Or should the highways agency fit early warning systems to all low bridges? The truth is it is impossible to say for certain who is at fault - what is far more worrying is that this could repeat itself almost anywhere in the world.
As exactly the kind of company that could be affected by a similar action here in the UK, it is right that we consider the possibilities and do everything we can to mitigate against it. Back in 2012 we took part in the first Satnav summit organised by the UK Government and this was a VERY positive step.
Given that when this type of accident inevitably happens here in Britain, the finger pointing will being here too, we'd really like to see UK Government pick up where it left off with satnavs and show the industry the right direction.
Freddie Talberg , CEO, PIE Mapping