Game of Thrones' Dark Hedges warning to sat-nav firms

By Michael Fitzpatrick

image captionThe Dark Hedges draw thousands of tourists to Northern Ireland

Satellite navigation companies are to be contacted by police about dangerous junctions near the Dark Hedges made famous by TV drama Game of Thrones.

Concerns were raised after an American tourist was killed in a crash in September at a crossing on the Gracehill Road in County Antrim.

It has been suggested information shown on in-car systems could be misleading.

Michael Monroe, 31, was on honeymoon when his car was involved in a collision with another vehicle.

The cause of the Connecticut man's death is still under investigation.

There have been at least three other collisions, at the two main junctions near the road made famous by the HBO series since August.

At a meeting with police and the Roads Service, DUP MLA Mervyn Storey asked how the road network could be made safer for an increasing number of tourists.

"There has been some work that has been carried out. We have now got most of the new Give Way signs up, with the yellow backing," Mr Storey said.

image source, PSNI
image captionMichael and Caroline Munro were on honeymoon when he was killed

"We are still waiting on the enhancement of the road alignment, in terms of the markings on the road.

"But we have an ongoing discussion still as regard to issues such as sat-nav directional information to this area.

"If you use any or most of the systems you will see that there is a constant blue line which goes through the Gracehill Road (from the Bregagh Road), that could give you the impression that the road continues and that it is not a junction," he added.

Rosie Leech, PSNI head of road policing, confirmed officers would be making contact with sat-nav companies through an online tool which allows the public to rectify incorrect or out-of-date mapping information.

"While sat-nav is increasingly popular as a means of selecting a route, we always advise road users to be aware of their surroundings, plan their journeys, look out for road warning or information signs and always follow official diversion routes," she warned.

The North Antrim MLA said he had a "difference of opinion" with the PSNI and Roads Service over whether a Stop sign should be placed at the dangerous junctions instead of a Give Way sign.

image source, HELENSLOAN
image captionActor Kit Harrington as Jon Snow in the HBO series

"Visitors to this area, do they understand what a Give Way sign is about? Do they understand the difference in the signs if they come into Dublin and they make their way north into Northern Ireland?" he added.

Bill Kennedy, a business owner in the nearby village of Armoy, said safety on the Gracehill Road had been an ongoing problem.

"Anything that improves road safety is more than welcome from my point of view," he said.

"We are not talking rocket science or millions of pounds to put up additional signs to help people travel to their destination, to keep them on the right road, to keep them safe."

The Dark Hedges became a huge draw for tourists and TV fans after they appeared, albeit very briefly, in the closing scene of one episode of Game of Thrones.

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