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18 Jul 2011

The old sat nav versus road map argument has been debated over dinner tables for many years now – usually between the younger and older generations – so it came as no surprise this week to hear that the nation is still very much divided.

The AA asked 17,000 motorists over a wide age range which method of navigation they preferred and discovered that the traditional map was still favoured by more senior drivers with just 28 percent saying they used a sat nav. By comparison 52 percent of drivers aged 18-24 used the device.

‘So what,’ I hear you ask. We all know that the younger generation use technology more frequently, as they have grown up surrounded by blinking screens and bleeping monitors. But for once, technology is not the superior creature and is, in fact, found to be distinctly lacking in this survey. As the same group of people who swear by their sat nav as the best means of getting them around, are also most likely to get lost!

Those relying on traditional skills appeared to have fared better with 82 per cent of younger drivers admitting that they had got lost last year, compared with 46 per cent of older motorists.

The problem is sat navs encourage motorists to enter an almost trance-like state of obedience, so the driver can see no further forward than the next electronic command, be that “take he next left” or “at the roundabout go straight on”. And before they know it, the person behind the wheel is no longer in control of his or her destination and has absolutely no idea where he or she is. This is fine, so long as the sat nav has downloaded the right information…or you could end up in a completely different ‘North Street’ to the one you had intended.

Don’t get us wrong, we love our sat navs and for city centre driving there’s nothing better. Remember trying to spread the map out over the steering wheel whilst simultaneously trying to figure out which of the 5 lanes of traffic you need to be in to turn left? However a little common-sense wouldn’t go astray and complete, unconditional reliance on that little black box stuck to the windscreen is not the best idea.

So our advice is stick your road map in the boot – just in case!


Filed in Automotive Updates, Safer Driving Comments Off
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