How useful are Sat Navs? Waste of time or essential driving companion?
76% of UK drivers own a Sat Nav. Whether it’s on their smart phone, one of the stand alone devices that attach to the windscreen or a fancy in-built navigation system. They have become ingrained into modern driving and have given confidence to more people to take to the roads on longer journeys in their cars. A staple for business drivers too, the SatNav is not without its fans. But how often do we actually use our SatNav? Are they really useful or do they cause more trouble than they are worth? Does our reliance on Sat Nav mean that we can no longer navigate ourselves or read maps? Do we spend less time looking at road signs as a result of Sat Nav usage? In this article, we’ll investigate how useful are sat navs and discuss whether they are a waste of time or an essential driving companion.
Are Sat Navs a waste of time?
Sat Navs aren’t famed for always giving the right directions. Reports of these devices taking motorists the wrong way down a one-way street or directing drivers into marinas are all over the web. You might not have experienced this first hand. But you will have almost certainly seen what it’s like when ‘Sat Nav Goes Sour’. Putting your Sat Nav on you’re filled with hope that this piece of technology will guide you home.The frequent reality is that it’s taken you on a wild goose chase and the journey has taken far longer than it should. Motorists waste an average of 29 hours every year following bad Sat Nav directions.
If you think about all the times this has happened to you it doesn’t seem too inaccurate.When they work they are a fantastic time saver and some can even help you to avoid traffic jams.
Are Sat Navs increasing distracted driving?
A study of 2,000 motorists discovered that most drivers ‘zoned out’ when using their Sat Nav. The term ‘zoning out’ implies they lost concentration entirely. With Sat Nav removing the need to observe road directional signs it’s no surprise that driving with a Sat Nav becomes so easy it’s easy to just blindly follow the audio prompts. 26 % of motorists admitted that their ability to navigate for themselves had declined since using Sat Nav. But these navigation systems aren’t just being used for unknown routes.
A quarter of motorists are using Sat Nav on routes they are familiar with. Another scary fact is that one in five motorists confessed to being unable to navigate themselves home after reaching a destination using their Sat Nav. This means that their concentration while driving using their Sat Nav was so low they did not notice any landmarks or register the route they were taking. Distracted drivers are the leading cause of road traffic accidents in the UK. In short, studies have shown that Sat Navs are increasing distracted driving and making the roads more dangerous.
The benefits of Sat Nav as a driving companion
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to owning and using a Sat Nav. For complicated journeys, they are an essential companion to help you navigate to your destination. Albeit via the long route on occasion. Not only that, some Sat Nav’s monitor your speed and alert you if you are travelling over the speed limit for the road you’re driving on. This is good practice for safer driving. Speed limits are set based on the surroundings of the road. In highly populated areas a 30mph limit is in place to reduce the risk of death for pedestrians who are hit by a car. If a Sat Nav can help drivers to stick to the speed limit and reduce the risk of fatal accidents then I’m all for that.
Not only that, some Sat Nav’s monitor your speed and alert you if you are travelling over the speed limit for the road you’re driving on. This is good practice for safer driving. Speed limits are set based on the surroundings of the road. In highly populated areas a 30mph limit is in place to reduce the risk of death for pedestrians who are hit by a car. If a Sat Nav can help drivers to stick to the speed limit and reduce the risk of fatal accidents then I’m all for that. It’s just a shame that in the other breath they are contributing to an increase in distracted driving.
Save on speeding fines
Your Sat Nav will alert you if you go over the speed limit. This doesn’t mean everyone will head this warning. But this handy feature will notify you of upcoming speed cameras. No one wants to receive that letter in the post. “Dear Madam, you are caught speeding and must pay us £100 minimum”. It doesn’t stop there. You must also take the brunt of three points on your licence. If you haven’t completed a speed awareness course before, you will be offered the opportunity to avoid the penalty points. To avoid points you can attend a speed awareness course at a local centre. These take around half a day. So if you value your time sticking to the speed limit is key.
Which type of Sat Nav is best?
If you don’t have an in-built Sat Nav in your car then there are a couple of types of portable Sat Nav which can do the job. So which is best? Sat Nav or Smartphone? The Smartphone navigation maps app is a very handy feature. For many, it’s completely replaced the humble portable Sat Nav device.
Pros of Smartphone Sat Nav
Smartphone Sat Nav works just as well as a dedicated device. In fact, they tend to respond faster to your location. This is because they are able to use cell tower triangulation to augment the GPS technology. Not only that, with all of the added accessories you can purchase for your smart phone Sat Nav like holders and connectivity leads to your car stereo, they’re just as easy to use as the original.
Cons of Smartphone Sat Nav
Smartphones come pre-installed with a full mapping package. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps are reliant on having an Internet connection to download maps on the go. Which could be a struggle if you’re in an area of poor signal and need to get your path home. Very frustrating. Portable devices are available offline too, so there’s no need to drive around finding a signal to be able to get your directions home.
Map updates on smart phones can take up an awful lot of valuable storage space on your mobile phone. This means less space for pictures of your pets. We can’t have that! A dedicated SatNav device usually offers lifetime map updates so you’ll always have the updated version.
Sat Nav’s are contributing to an increase in distracted driving. They are also responsible for us losing 29 hours a year taking longer routes than we need too. But, in my mind, they sure do beat arguing with your dedicated map-reading passenger about which turn to take. I personally favour a smartphone SatNav because it plugs directly into my car stereo. I can listen to my playlists on Apple Music and my phone will quieten the music to reveal the voice direction instructions. A nifty little feature.