posted 7 years ago

Can Sat-Navs Impede Driving?

Oh dear! Sat-navs can significantly impede motorists' performance behind the wheel, according to new research

Oh dear! Sat-navs can significantly impede motorists' performance behind the wheel, according to new research. Academics at Lancaster University, and the Royal Holloway University of London, performed a series of experiments whereby volunteers were set computerised tasks which mimicked the instructions of a sat-nav. The results suggest that when motorists follow complicated instructions they tend to drive faster with more steering variations - as well as being less likely to notice pedestrians moving into the vehicle's path.

Dr Pragya Agarwal, from Lancaster University, revealed: “The results from our research have implications for the way these systems can be designed to be more effective and user-friendly in the future. Our research shows how people’s behaviour while driving is influenced by the use of these navigational systems, which are becoming increasingly ubiquitous.”

Dr Polly Dalton from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, added: “What is interesting is that people were able to follow one simple instruction without any significant impact on their driving but as soon as they had to remember a compound instruction, consisting of two sequential directions, we began to notice a difference in their driving ability. A lot of effort has gone into designing visually friendly sat-nav devices but our research highlights the importance of the way in which the auditory instructions are given.”

Interestingly, 75% of the test subjects said they only use a sat-nav's visual display for “clarification, elaboration, or reminders of the auditory instructions”. This, researchers say, confirms the importance of the auditory instructions to the majority of users. Sat-nav manufacturers should clearly take this into account. But, the final responsibility for safety stops with motorists. It is their task to concentrate and not be distracted by the sat-nav, radio, or kids. Furthermore, in my experience, sat-navs can help people drive safely as their instructions enable motorists to focus on the road rather than struggling to read the directional signs that are frequently hidden by plants. At worst, sat-nav is a mixed blessing.

Laurie, the only reason trucks get stuck down your line is because the driver has set his sat-nav wrong, usually for the shortest journey, (operator malfunction) you cound try putting a notice at the head of your lane saying (Unsutable for heavy vehicles)

drivers knowing where there going,rather than not,SAT/NAV,S are advantageous and help rather than hinder I rest my case!

Never heard such tripe, so this is what our hard earned tax paying money is paying for, how about I have a grant to determine how many worthless studies are carried out by people who do not know how things work or the facts of the matter. So blaming the fact that people can't drive on a piece of technology is good for safety, how about we all do something constructive with our lives.

I love Sat-Navs! As someone who has driven for nearly 40 years and who has the ability to both listen to AND remember whats being said to me, the simple instruction 'Turn left then take the next right' doesn't pose a problem! Maybe if we stopped handing out licences willy-nilly and made driving accesible only to those of reasonable intelligence, we'd make driving safer.....

Interaction with anything in the car - radio, smoking, children in the back seat - is likely to increase risk, no brainer! However for sat navs I drove a BMW with Head Up display for sat nab, road speed etc and it was far better. You can now get after market HUDs now, has to be the future.

They can only at best be an aid to a journey, any one using a sat nav without previously looking up a map of journey could well end up in trouble.

Obvious ennit. Most drivers are so unaware, they do not realise that loud music, phones etc interfere with their driving. That why the vulnerable statisics are so poor ie motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.

I know that since having a Sat Nav I have driven much more safely, especially when trying to find my way into and around London, where road numbers are non existant most of the time. It is so much more relaxing when you know where you are heading and which lane to aim for.

I personally believe that the Sav Nav has the same effect as a radio. These are all statistic and if you listened to them you would not even get into a car from the fear of being safe. People argue that before Sat Navs we used maps. To be quite honest they are worse. People reading them while driving or randomly stopping at the side of the road with no warning.

I agree with all of the comments.What happened before sat-nav? we read road signs and maps.I two, but only have them there as a guide. Let common sense prevail.If you dont have any, then you shouldnt be driving.

Laurie Lessels, that has nothing to do with satnav and everything to do with the idiot behind the wheel. The satnav doesn't read road signs and doesn't know the size of the vehicle, it's the driver's responsibility to read the roads and its signs. If they used a map the road would still be marked, so if they're determined to ignore road signs the result would be just the same. A satnav can't be blamed when idiots get stuck on cliffs, down flooded roads or in the middle of a field. The satnav doesn't have a brain, the person behind the wheel ought to.

It's the idiots who put the satnav right in front of their face, where the guide becomes more important than what's outside the car that makes it so dangerous. I'm surprised these fools don't kill everyone and themselves.

One thing is for certain. Reading written instructions while driving is much more dangerous. For people driving with out a co-pilot that can map read (or read) the Sat Nav is one of the most significant safety improvers of our time. Without doubt it relives stress and relives concentration for the driving task.

I agree with the person who dislikes satnav. It's worse than useless. I live down a single track Cornish lane and am frequently held up when large lorries are wedged on a double bend. There are signs at the junctions from the main roads which state, "Unsuitable for heavy vehicles". My only option is to reverse about half a mile until I can turn and go out another way, that is unless some other lorry driving techno has come in from the other end and blocked that too. What's wrong with a map, or can't they read those either?

I fully agree with Robert Beveridge. Used properly, a satnav can be of great assistance. As with everything, some common sense needs to be used.

They shouldn't do! They are supposed to be set up before the start of a journey, not fiddled around with while driving. I find that they're a big help as following the instructions saves you having to look around for signs etc. I would not go on a long journey without one! Wish i'd had one years ago when i was a delivery driver - must be a god-send most of the time!

Sat Nav's are like any other tool to do job-you have to know how to use it,use it properly and it is perfectly safe. If you are fool enough to play around with it whilst driving you are bound to get into trouble and possibly cause injury to both yourself and other road users.

I am not totally convinced that the Sat Nav is the panacea it is made out to be. I still seem to get as if not better results by printing off a route from Google Maps or the AA, whoever, and referring to them as required!

I found sat nav is a boom especially in a motorhome where speed is down to 50-60mph and instructions aware given well in advance so no sudden manouvers,a must have gadget!

So we have another useless survey by academics who need to kept in employment. What is so complicated about listening to a voice say “ in 800 yards enter the roundabout and take the third exit ”? I have used a sat nav for 5 years which has been kept updated, and it has always got me to my destination. A driver should not gope at the display for so long that they might miss pedestrians no matter how pretty or visually friendly they make it, in fact a driver should not look at the display at all, as eyes should always be on the road ahead, and that's why there is a selection of clear precise voices for instructional directions. If a driver cannot remember a compound instruction consisting of two directions like “ Turn Right and in 200 yards turn Left ” they should not be out on their own :-) Sat navs are a great help as long as you understand the programming of your particular model, and keep them updated which is where the additional costs are.

If phoning whist driving is considered dangerous why not using Satnav or eating or listening to the radio??