Sat-navs lead 26 to road fines

The bus zone and pedestrianised area outside The Centre in Livingston
The bus zone and pedestrianised area outside The Centre in Livingston
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THEY are designed to help take the stress out of driving, guiding motorists to their destination after calculating the shortest and easiest route.

But almost 30 drivers found themselves in hot water after their sat-navs guided them into a bus lane and pedestrianised zone in West Lothian, landing them a £30 fine.

Lothian and Borders Police carried out two enforcement operations earlier this month at the bus terminus in Almondvale Avenue, Livingston. A total of 26 drivers were issued with fixed penalty notices over the two Saturdays. The majority of motorists who were stopped said they were visiting the area from outwith West Lothian, and claimed to have been directed to Almondvale Avenue by their sat-nav.

Around 100 cars were stopped over both days, with officers carrying out each operation over a two-and-a-half hour period.

The initiative followed a number of complaints from local residents and bus companies, with police ready to catch motorists out again in future if necessary.

West Lothian Council said the move was not merely about enforcement but promoting safety, particularly of pedestrians using the area to cross between The Centre and Livingston Designer Outlet.

Councillor for Livingston South, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, referred to the road as a “rat run” and said it was often used as a shortcut. He urged drivers to pay attention to road signs and not to just follow their sat-navs “blindly”.

“Where the signs clearly prohibit cars, you cannot go, even though the sat-nav says you can go,” he said.

“Sometimes sat-navs are not fully up-to-date with all the various orders that are in place about restricting access to cars, motorbikes, etc. Sat-navs are a useful tool but they’re not definitive. It really is unfortunate for these people but the Highway Code is the law of the road. The sign at the entrance to Almondvale Avenue makes it clear that no cars are allowed.”

Lothian and Borders Police said it was the first time it had carried out enforcement action on Almondvale Avenue, with the first patrol catching out a dozen drivers on July 7, and a further 14 issued with Fixed Penalty Notices on July 14.

West Lothian Council’s Executive Councillor for Roads, Tom Conn, added: “The council supports this police initiative. This area is very busy with pedestrians crossing between The Centre and the Designer Outlet.

“The signage at the bus 
terminus in Livingston is very clear. However, some car drivers seem to think that it doesn’t apply to them. Community safety must come first.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said further enforcement action will be considered if the problem continues.