Is Your SatNav Distracting You?

January 9, 2015

Satellite navigation systems have become standard in many cars and modern drivers have become more and more reliant upon them. Interesting research carried out by Brake, the road safety charity, has found that one in seven drivers are risking their lives to correct SatNav mistakes. The popular phrase they’ve cited in their research is ‘turn around when possible’ something the majority of SatNav users will hear regularly and is the beginning of the risks for many.

The survey carried out by Brake in line with Direct Line found that 15% of all drivers who use a SatNav admit that they make illegal or risky driving manoeuvres to correct the mistakes that come from following the SatNav. Though the computerised voice says ‘turn around when possible’ it isn’t an instruction which suggests you should act illegally. Illegal U-Turns are amongst the most common error but many other dangerous behaviours were found, specifically due to the use of satellite navigation.

7% of all drivers surveyed admitted they had had to swerve or break suddenly to avoid a hazard because they were distracted or focused on the SatNav and 7% also admitted to having similar issues because they were fiddling with their car stereo. These in-car technologies are designed to aid driving but when they become focused upon they can risk your safety on the road.


Sensible Satellite Navigation

If used properly and with safety in mind, a voice-based SatNav can really enhance your driving experience and it can make it safer, removing the need to look at paper maps when behind the wheel or needing to navigate whilst not looking at the road. There are studies which have found SatNav systems can make drivers complacent, less observant and even driver faster so their use is something that needs to be managed.

Brake has launched a new Drive Smart Campaign which is asks drivers to make one specific driving New Year’s Resolution: stay alert and key your mind and eyes on the road. In practical terms this means:

  • Programme SatNav routes before driving off
  • Do not attempt to re-programme whilst driving, pull over and make any changes
  • Do not use a mobile phone
  • Do not fiddle with the stereo or focus anywhere but on the road

Research has shown that almost every road user is unable to multitask effectively when driving and it will affect driving performance negatively. A secondary activity, whether that’s fiddling with the SatNav or looking for something in a bag, can increase the likelihood of a crash up to three times or more when the task is complex such as talking on the phone or sending a text.

Brake has also highlighted it has issues with the inclusion of more and more social and leisure technology being added to cars. Technology which has nothing to do with driving, such as social media access does nothing but provide a distraction and Brake believe the government should be regulating the dangers of these additions to drivers.

Driver distraction costs lives and makes you a risk. Distraction can be for less than a second and it can cause an accident and if you’re the driver at fault, the victim has every right to move forward with a personal injury claim.

Photo credit: Terry Freedman via Photopin & Creative Commons