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An inquest has heard that a female driver died as a result of a head-on collision with another motorist after her sat-nav directed her to turn onto a dual carriageway exit-ramp.

The Telegraph reports 21-year-old Lauren Smee, fresh from passing her road test three months earlier, was driving at night on December 11, 2011 on her way to pick up a friend when she approached a roundabout. Her navigation system told her to take the first left turn, she followed the instruction and turned onto an off-ramp for the A27 motorway in West Sussex, England heading into oncoming traffic.

Smee failed to notice the signage before her Ford Ka collided head-on with a BMW travelling in the correct direction. While the driver of the BMW, 49-year old Stuart Hope-Kirk, was left with a fractured ankle and fractured spine, Smee died later that night at Worthing Hospital.

Hope-Kirk told the hearing, “I saw what looked like strong headlights coming towards me. They were on my side of the dual carriageway. There was absolutely no time for me to react.”

Police Constable Stuart Medlycott from Sussex Police said, “The signage on the exit slip road is quite high so if you missed the two signs on the flyover bridge you may miss those.”

If Lauren was unfamiliar with that junction she may have had a momentary lapse in her concentration.”

The woman’s mother, Penny Smee, has called for sat-nav training to be introduced as part of driving lessons. “She heard the voice of the sat-nav and took it literally. She was a very inexperienced driver.”

“If the sat-nav tells you to get off there you just think it’s telling you the right thing. She believed she was doing the right thing and didn’t question it.”

The inquest was told that signage at the junction had since been improved by England’s Highways Agency before Coroner Penelope Schofield recorded the verdict of accidental death.




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