Generation-X driver dies through relying on her Satellite Navigation spy tech

Novice driver, 17, died in horror smash after becoming ‘over-reliant’ on Sat Nav and missing crossroad warning signs

Laura Salford had been following her TomTom Sat Nav and missed the sign which warned her to give way at a crossroads
The 17-year-old’s Toyota was hit by a van in Beverley, South Yorkshire
Her two passengers suffered injuries from the accident

By Sara Malm
PUBLISHED: 16:53, 18 October 2012 | UPDATED: 19:06, 18 October 2012

A teenage girl died in a tragic car accident after following her Sat Nav apparently made her miss signs warning of a main road crossing ahead, a coroner heard.

Laura Louise Salford, 17, was enjoying a road trip with two friends, celebrating the end of their exams, when they were hit by a van at a crossroads by Walkington village, near Beverley, South Yorkshire.

An inexperienced driver, Miss Salford was using her TomTom Sat Nav to help her find her way home from the trio’s day out, an inquest in Hull, East Yorkshire, heard.

An expert witness said the use of the device could have been a significant factor in the accident.

Just weeks before the fatal accident, Laura had suffered a minor incident on the road and therefore lied to her parents about her plans for the day so as not to worry them, an inquest in Hull, East Yorkshire, heard.

Miss Salford had told them the trio were going swimming near her home in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, but instead took her friends to Hull and then onto the nearby seaside resort of Bridlington.

It was after their day out that Miss Salford, driving the car her parents had bought her when she passed her test in April, trusted her new Sat Nav, which didn’t warn her when the minor road she was driving on crossed a main road.

The driver of the van, Glen Simpson, told the inquest he didn’t have time to brake.

He said: ‘Out of the corner of my eye I saw something black, I didn’t see the type of vehicle. There was nowhere I could go, I collided straight into the side of the car.’

Laura’s friends Anna Johnson and Kimberly Wright were both injured in the crash on May 31.

Anna said her friend was a ‘really careful’ driver and, has even stopped to have her windscreen wipers repaired when when one of them blew off as they drove into Hull.

In a statement, she said: ‘We thought we must have gone the wrong way, there were cows walking about and they appeared to be loose.

‘Laura was driving very carefully. We were both wide awake. I don’t remember the sat-nav beeping, I don’t remember give way signs. I remember waking up and seeing Laura’s face. She didn’t speak, she wasn’t moving.’

Laura’s mother Lorraine said in a statement: ‘She wouldn’t have wanted to worry us. We’d had a long conversation after the bump and told her not to go too far before she was more experienced.

She said the reason why Laura failed to stop at the signs could only be a matter of speculation. ‘Laura was an inexperienced driver and was unfamiliar with the route along which she was travelling and the driver of the second vehicle had little or no time to react.’

A Walkington resident said: ‘It is a dangerous staggered junction and the village has wanted something done about it for years.’

Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said after the inquest: ‘It is absolutely vital that drivers give their full concentration to the road ahead, and never blindly follow a Sat Nav’

During his investigation, collision investigator Ian Clark followed the route taken by the girls using the same Sat Nav that was in the student’s car.

He told the inquest the teenager may have been ‘over-reliant’ on her Sat Nav and it may have ‘unwittingly been a significant factor.’

Assistant deputy coroner Rosemary Baxter recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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