back to article GPS is killing children

A new report from the Dutch research organisation Stichting Onderzoek Navigatiesystemen seeks to compare different satellite navigation systems, and finds that only one allows for proper route planning while labelling the rest "kid killers". Nav4All was the only product of the 13 examined in the report that was able to plot …

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Strange, because...

....my TomTom selects the shortest route, when told to, and the "fastest route" (which tends to use main routes and avoid residential areas) when told to.

In fact, I have found that when in "fastest route" mode I can, for example, turn off a motorway to avoid traffic, and head down a 'back road' which I know. When doing this, TomTom will, for some distance, keep pestering me to "Turn around when able" and attempts to divert me back onto the motorway where I left.

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Boffin

Surely this is a dat problem

I imagine the problem here isn't the satellite navigation software but the data that goes into it. The software must have the capability of using data on speed restrictions in the road database; certainly the one I have does (a Sony). So, I would immediately say that the road database does not correctly reflect the driving conditions for the roads in Holland. So, although the conclusion may be correct, I'd say that the report puts the blame in the wrong place!

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Flame

No fun...

Right thats it I'll never buy a nav4 thingy with this feature as its obvious this company are causing global warming by making cars take a longer route, its also anti-darwin as any bright kid wont be playing on the road anyway, so they are also lowering the IQ of the world gene pool by allowing stupid kids to survive into adulthood.

Also if it routes sensibly, we cant have funny news reports showing how lorry drivers have got stuck between a tree and and expensive sprots car etc.

no it wont do, it goes against all the norms of sat nav.

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TomTom likes motorways

I have used various versions of TomTom over the years and it seems to have an obsession with using motorways and major roads in general. I also tried Navigon and it didn't seem to be much different in that respect. This leads me to think that the Dutch research is a bit suspect.

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Si
Alien

Not what I was expecting...

I thought the report would be claiming that GPS beams harmful radiation down from the sky and is slowly killing the children who don't wear protective tinfoil clothing and that we should all move back into caves.

Sat navs picking stupid routes is hardly news to anyone who has used one...

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cor
Happy

Hmmn, biased you say....

Why then did they not conclude that Tom Tom, "the biggest car-nav company in the world" (their words) was the best.

It is after all 100% Dutch, and owns the other famous 100% Dutch mapping outfit Tele Atlas (Google Earth & OEM satnav for nearly all european brands). They could also have chosen for NAVTeq which is also 100% Dutch.

Of course the Dutch invented triangulation in 1533 (Gemma Frisius) and partially educated the Flemish Mercrator (as in map projection).

BTW : I'm not Dutch, but I do "live amongst" them...(he he) :P

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Roads versus dirt tracks

I have a Tomtom one which was bought two years ago and when I use the shortest route for a journey I have noticed that it goes through the smallest roads possible. It is not safe in some country areas like Wales, where it has shown us tiny roads through farm land that are capable of carrying only one vehicle one way.

I do hope the newer ones differentiate between those dirt tracks and roads because I think they should tell you which is which so one will not make the mistake. Stop sign because dirt tracks should be identified.

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Coat

Death Race 2000

So when all social order breaks down and the vision of Death Race 2000 becomes a reality (Death Race 2019?) - don't use a Nav4All.

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Coat

'Kid-killers'??

So; kids running out in front of cars is now the fault of sat-nav? *despairs*

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@ Cor

OK, Take a TeleAtlas based satnav (Most UK TomTomses) and try to use that on holiday in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

According to TeleAtlas, neither exist.

NavTeq (Garmin et al) is OK

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Gold badge

Routing problems

I'm amused to find myself making analogies with IP routing. (OK, I'm easily amused, but it's ironic given that most texts on IP routing use car analogies.)

"Certainly the growth of satellite navigation technology has turned residential streets in cities around the world into rat runs, though the petrolheads would argue that this is simply more efficient use of the deployed tarmac."

That would depend on the cost function, as the very first respondent notes.

However, the routing protocols in IP also allow local network administrators to restrict "through traffic", because every packet has to tell the truth about its final destination. (OK, it can lie if it doesn't care about getting there!) Sadly, a satnav can ignore any local rules written into its database.

Perhaps we just need a congestion charge covering everything except trunk roads. Rat runs would then carry a financial penalty and local traffic authorities would once again have some leverage on road use.

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Rubbish

It's only "killer" when it's fitted into a 4x4 with their flat high bonnets which knock kids flat down and flatten them (with a car they get thrown onto the bonnet and stand a chance of survival).

Not to mention 4x4 drivers feel invulnerable and so don't take as much care, plus drive over speed bumps really fast as their wheels can straddle many of them.

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Kids are kids; cars are the introduced hazard.

- So; kids running out in front of cars is now the fault of sat-nav? -

No, it's just a fact of life that kids do things like that; it's the fault of sat-nav if it routes many drivers onto residential streets for a short-cut. I'd expect a reaction if it's not fixed -- in the U.S., I've known parents who threw things (eggs, beachballs) at speeding cars, and also that have "parked" their cars in ways that substantially obstruct the roads. For my own part, I drive ve-ry care-ful-ly in residential neighborhoods, especially if someone is impatiently tailgating me (I slow down until their following distance is safe).

If things get bad enough, roads tend to get cut in the middle to break the through connection, or speed bumps/humps are installed, or extra stops and signals are installed.

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@leslie

Quote:

"Right thats it I'll never buy a nav4 thingy with this feature as its obvious this company are causing global warming by making cars take a longer route, its also anti-darwin as any bright kid wont be playing on the road anyway, so they are also lowering the IQ of the world gene pool by allowing stupid kids to survive into adulthood."

The nav4 thingy will put you through the shorter route. Our (I'm dutch) residential aera's mostly provide the longer route, with the added remark that these area's are usually subject to speed limits of 30 Km/h or less.

Secondly, our kids (I happen to have a son of 4) do not play on the road, but they'll need to cross roads in order to get to school. People living in our residential area tend to know the area and adjust their behaviour. People from -anywhere- do not know and misbehave normally. Today, I was crossing together with my kid. the traffic light being red for cars, and someone almost did not stop. He was speeding at about 80 km/h, where 30 was the limit, and if it werent for his brakes, he would have killed 5 kids crossing then. Kids, however bright, typically do not develop 'traffic awareness' before the age of 6.

I guess you understand I opened his car and had to sort of beat him up, bashed his car and I was about to stick a knife in his goddamn eyes since he wasnt seeing anything anyway. - after the kids left obviously - It's a shame the police was around before I could finish the job. I got a warning, he received an article 5 ('crazy/dangerous driving') ticket of 500E. If the police would have left it my way, I would have been able to make it very Darwin and I would have corrected the gene pool of people that cannot drive a car properly.

Whoever you are, you are invited to use your TomDumb and drive my area. Please try to take out a kid. I would love to meet you..... Probably you dont have kids, nor do you understand that main roads are intended for fast traffic. Whatever. I hope you may grow up once.

ps. I use a MIO (Belgium GPS device), and I typically ignore stupid residential diversions. It isnt that hard to do. I do like to speed on highways; my car does about 240 km/h and I regularly meet that limit - just not in residential area's -

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Google Earth loves motorways.

I don't drive, but I know routes..

While it's not a routing/gps app, I find Google earth generally does an OK job of creating routes.

Apart from the route to my house to work. Door to Door, depending on the route I take (I have a few routes that I use depending on traffic), the journey is about 10-15 miles, uses all A and B roads.

Google Earth takes me first on to the M25 (which means I start the journey going the opposite way to the one I should), then from the M25 on to the A2 (which is bad in the morning, as any Londoner will tell you). Total journey: nearly 40 miles.

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Unhappy

@golverd

Sheeez man, I hope you're making that up.

Especially the bit about regularly driving 240 km/h, 'cos you will be no use to your kid when you go to jail.

<chill pill recommended>

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Re: Surely this is a dat problem

Paul,

Your making the classic mistake of thinking "system" = "program". A system is at a bare minimum program + data, and under some definitions (eg ITIL) program + data+ user. If the SatNav suppliers can't providce reliable data, they can't provide a safe system.

Given the potential consequences of faults in the system, SatNav should be regarded as safety-critical, and I doubt any SatNav on the market would pass the tests that industry places on safety-critical systems.

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Does the SatNav have a "race" function?

While they do have "shortest path" (or equivalent) that takes us through residential stuff, and the "road slowing" features (chicanes or squeeze points) are introduced, why not have them introduce to us a "race" feature to exploit these. You could enter a desired circuit length (say 3 kM) and then a degree of difficulty (oval track to Nürburgring) and go from there. It might even get competitive, who knows.

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Paris Hilton

the software isnt advanced enough

i can follow the road using the sat nav... but it never shows me other

cars or pedestrians on the screen. do i need to change a setting?

other than that small issue it is great. I now know how pilots navigate

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Coat

With apologies to MasterCard ...

A full tank for that trip down south: €50

A new sat-nav you got for christmas: €200

Using your brain instead of the sat-nav's: Priceless

there are some things money can't buy ...

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New marketing?

So is the new trend in marketing going to be to hire an 'unbiased' company to label all of your competitors 'child killers'?

I normally like kids (with limited exposure,) but it seems that lately they get used too much for other peoples' agendas. So I'm inclined to stop caring about them at all as the only defense to alarmist whackjobs.

And that'll only last until the whackjobs come up with some new tactic.

I remember being rather durable as a child, what with concrete-floored play structures, large rocks under really high swing sets, gods know how many germs, and the occasional tragic experimentation with mains electricity. I hate to think how I'd turned out if I didn't get the occasional scrape or electric burn as a 6 year old... The current generation of children are probably going to be rather unimpressive...

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Proven solution

I used to live on a narrow residential city street which, as general traffic increased and drivers got ruder, started to get annoyingly busy just after work time. Bad drivers who didn't live there would take "shortcuts". We used to just find local uses for the street, such as car washing, and encouraging the kids to set up their nets and play street hockey. The people in the neighbourhood wouldn't care, everybody is freindly, but anybody taking a shortcut who would have to wait for us to finish/move would learn to go elsewhere. I don't understand the tolerance that some people have for agressive motorists who don't belong. It's easy to just leave your car in the road, put up the hood (bonnet) and go have a cup of coffee while the idiots are honking outside. Personally, I'm always respectful of other people's neighbourhoods and try to stick to main roads when not at home.

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Its only common sense

I really wonder about the intelligence of people who try to control everything in their environment to the smallest degree. Teach your kids to be safe, don't try and make everything safe, the latter course does not and cannot work.

Roads are dangerous because cars use them. I taught all my kids that roads, car parks, driveways and any part of the world used by cars are dangerous and are never to be played on, nor strolled on carelessly. As well as this they were taught to look around before attempting a crossing. Before they were old enough to understand this, they were accompanied by and adult in public spaces. This was not foolproof, but then neither is trying to protect our kids by restricting car access on local roads.

Anyone driving a car is dangerous, no matter at what speed. If you drive a car you are part of the problem and pointing fingers at those other "bad" people is not going to absolve you from blame. Nor will it protect your kids if you say some areas of road are safe to play on, or they can forget about simple road safety rules because they consider a particular stretch of road is safer than others.

Consider that many people are hurt and killed in driveways and car parks. The last kilometer of road before you get home is one of the most dangerous stretches of road on your journey. Lastly if you want to see bad driving, go and visit a local school in the morning, the mothers dropping their precious kids off are totally focussed on talking to their own kids, as a result a lot of them are a menace to other drivers and any other pedestrians.

If you do succeed and make your area of the road safe, what will happen to your kids when they go somewhere where the road is not safe? What happens when the road is not as safe as you had thought and your kids are playing or strolling on the road? One correspondent has already seen this and commented. I suggest he undergo an anger management course before he hurts someone and his kids have to spend a few years without a father because he is in jail.

Lastly, chicanes, speed humps and road closures are adding to green house gases and harmful chemicals in the atmosphere that are mitted by cars, they interfere with emergency vehicles (that extra 5 minutes can be crucial to an ambulance or fire engine), and speed humps in particular can cause discomfort to people with spinal injuries and other painful conditions.

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@ Ole Juul

So; to solve the problem of aggressive, impatient drivers in your neighbourhood, your plan is to hold them up and piss them off even more?

With regards the rest of the article:

Parents: Don't let your children on main or through roads unsupervised

Drivers: Watch the road and drive in accordance with the conditions

Sat-nav manufacturers: Vet your data better.

Done.

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A touch of perspective here?

SatNavs are there to give direction, not tell you how to drive. They are a driver aid, not a driver instructor. You should have full awareness at all times of the environment in which you are driving and shouldn't need a SatNav to tell you you're in a residential area - that's what your eyes are for! If you are incapable of adjusting your speed and driving - as many of the hot-hatch boys are where I live in Peterborough, UK - and you know who you are - then GET OFF OUR ROADS!

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I remember the days....

It's going to make me sound old, but I remember the days when people used to find their own way and it actually took some effort to navigate to somewhere you'd never been. In fact it was part of the fun of going somewhere new. It's not that I actively dislike sat navs, but I don't own one because I don't tend to get lost.

I think people are blaming too much of this issue on sat navs as well. I see posts talking about how there is so much more traffic on their street now, has anyone considered it may just be because the main roads are getting more and more congested and more people feel the need to try and find alternative routes? I don't use a sat nav (as I stated) but still if I know one route will be congested, I might choose to take an alternative "around" the blockage. Of course, I consider myself a careful and considerate driver and don't tend to come close to running kids over, but that's another point.

The main issue is not the sat nav, but the impatience and lack of responsibility some people have behind the wheel. Contrary to what some people think, it tends to be people very familiar with the road who cause/have the majority of accidents in residential areas. When on familiar territory, people tend to relax and their concentration slips, and they drive a touch faster because they "know the road". This not only shows in statistics but I have also seen from my own observations.

Oh, the only time I EVER came even close to injuring a child on a road, I was doing about 20mph approaching a junction and a kid simply rode out into the road on his bike without even looking (from an alley which you cannot see from the road). He then panicked, hit his brakes, fell off his bike and I managed to stop about a metre from his head. If I hadn't been going slowly, I would have probably killed him, and I am sure there are people who would say it was my fault, even though I'd have still been within the speed limit. Fact is, kids also have to be made plainly aware of the dangers of roads, especially in these times of growing traffic volumes.

I never saw the kid since, but I'll bet he started looking more carefully before riding across roads after that.

And sorry golverd, but you sound like an idiot. You rant about safe driving in one area and then tell everyone you regularly speed at muppet-like levels in others. So it's much better for you to speed (by your own admission at up to 150mph) on a motorway, plough into a car with 3 kids in the back and kill all three then? Yeah because that admission really backs up the rest of your argument.......

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Bronze badge

Come on

If your kid is not aware of road sadety it's your responsibility to look after them.

golverd, I know bad parents are always looking for someone else to blame but your not going to live long like this.....

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Thumb Up

Fix the problem.....

why don't they just install more speed cameras or Spec cameras and set them at 20 mph?

or...... attempt to fix the problem by improving our critical infrastructure?

Better public transport and better roads

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JK
Coat

re: Roads Versus Dirt Tracks

"It is not safe in some country areas like Wales, where it has shown us tiny roads through farm land that are capable of carrying only one vehicle one way."

Blimey, how many cars do you drive at once?

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Go

I use Nav4All...

... and it regularly sends me the wrong way. It's kind of OK, and just by adding a £25 bluetooth GPS to your phone, it's a VERY cheap way of tinkering with Sat Nav. I think it must be configured to strongly favour major roads.

All the maps are loaded over-the-air, so it's not a cheap solution if you use it regularly and you pay per megabyte.

For occasional use though, it has taken me to the correct place on a few occasions when I've been completely lost and without a map.

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Bad Sat Nav Routes

I used to roll my eyes at the idiotic routes my sat nav would suggest I drive. Then I realised I had it set to journey by foot.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re: Roads Versus Dirt Tracks

JK, you may think it's funny, but I know what Llanfair is on about. That said, when you are directed down one of those, you can always use your common sense and not turn down it, and possibly zoom out if a larger alternative is available ahead.

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Strange

I thought this story was about lazy satnav developers (or maybe that should be cheapskate satnav developers). I read the story and thought that the main argument was that if one company can develop a system that steers drivers a way from residential areas then why can't others. All the other comments seem to be a exercise in buck passing. Yes, teach your children road safety, but drivers at minimum of 17 years have the greater resposablity than a 4 year old.

Where I live we have two roads that run paralell, one the main road the other residential. The main road ends at a junction so becomes congested at peak times and the boy racers/muppet take to the residential street. Solution: We residents park our cars on both sides of the road in a stagared layout slowing everyone down to a more sedate speed. we even went out and waved as the muppets drove past, they learned very quickly when they knew they were being watched.

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Anonymous Coward

stick yer satnav where the sun don't shine

Garbage in, garbage out has always been the adage and prat nav is certainly garbage.

What is wrong with consulting a map before travelling.

I used to drive around 50,000 miles a year around Britain and I can say I know my way around, including many a back road and don't rely on inaccurate information from the poor devices.

Rather than lazy satnav developers, what about lazy drivers? Ban the bloody things is what I advocate. Satnav's are a curse that can not be cured!!

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Ian

The problem isn't the data

SatNav route finding is a classic twist on the travelling salesman problem which is a problem that can't realistically be solved by brute force attempts at finding the fastest route for larger data sets.

As such finding the best or fastest routes must depend on other algorithms which are generally AI based, such as ACO and whilst these other approaches make the problem solvable, they do not making it solvable with the best solution in the majority of cases. As such satnav will not always find the best route, but it will find a good route, the difference may not be much (say, 5mins longer in a 2hr journey for example) but nevertheless it can mean ending up going down non-ideal streets.

There really isn't a solution to the problem, route finding is simply too complex to find perfect solutions every time. Potentially it's something that quantum computing may be able to solve, but that's a technology that is a long way off being in servers and desktops let alone in small, portable devices.

It's one of the few situations where we have to make compromises and as such fastest route doesn't necessarily actually give you the fastest route, but it will give you the next best thing. The point to take away is this, that satnav isn't a tool you should be using to get you somewhere as fast as possible, it's something you should be using to get you somewhere you don't necessarily know how to get. It will not drive safely for you and will not keep an eye out for kids running across the street - use it responsibly, it's a tool to help you do your job not to do your job for you.

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The first poster is correct ...

... the data itself is deficient.

I have a TomTom and use it quite regularly - but not to the exclusion of having a clue where I'm going before I set off ! Round home it always plots a suboptimal route because it's clear it don't know the difference between the normal road it's sensible to use, and the very narrow road it plots the route down.

It's also clear that it had data which is many years out of date, but that's another issue.

The answer is simply that the data needs to be better - it's needs better ratings for 'suitability' of roads for non-local traffic. If that is done then things will improve, but alas I suspect it won't happen because no-one will want to pay for it !

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How about just a MMS?

A moving map display would be a lot more worthwhile to me than SatNav: just show me the map clearly, where I am, where I'm going and which way I'm pointing. don't bother telling me what to do, just let me know where I am.

It'd need a bigger display, and you'd need some sort of fish-eye version of the map (in addition to the normal single-scale view), where near the car it's higher resolution and the edges (where you don't care there's a side street because there's no way to go there yet) at a lower resolution so you can see more "land".

An easy way to zoom in/out and you're sorted.

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Linux

Question

Do you still get 50 points a kid? Cause i'm 100 away froma welfare epic?

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Flame

My Tom Tom must be broken then...

It doesn't tell me to stop at traffic lights, give way at roundabouts, brake if I see a child in the road or anything. I am outraged! It's almost as if I am expected to use my common sense and driving awareness if I want to get somewhere

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Unhappy

Use common sense, not Sat-Nav

My new (07) Honda CRV came with a Sat-Nav and it's cr*p!

Luckily I only use it occassionally as I normally know where I am going, because it can't find 90% of the places I look for. (This is not a made up statistics, I tried it with the contents of my home address book for a test!)

It also makes 7 mistakes in the route from my local swimming pool to home, including trying to send me the wrong way down a dual carriage way and trying to send me on a 5 mile loop on B roads rather than the straight 1 mile route on another B road.

Is such "garbage out" limited to this Sat-Nav or are they all so bad? (previous commentators suggest that some are better)

But not so good that they don't send foreign drivers down a single track road near my house rather than the A14 dual carriageway! The banked hedges and right angle bends mean a long reverse for anything meeting them, as there is no way for the lorries to reverse properly and it's only wide enough for two cars can pass in the passing spots!

Can't we just place weight restrictions on all unsuitable roads (rural or residential) and force the Sat-Nav companies to take notice of them? Northamptonshire CC won't place a weight limit on the road in question - the reason - all the local roads suitable for lorries already have weight limits on them to force the lorries onto the A14! And they don't believe that Sat-Nav's now route the lorries down this unsuitable road!

I would never drive anywhere without a normal paper map.

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re: just a MMS

Don't most sat-navs have a map-only option anyway? Although I like your idea about the variable scale and bigger screen. I do think there is a useful place for GPS, I don't use it at all in the UK, but I did use it on a recent trip to Germany where I didn't want to have to do lots of route finding myself - being unfamiliar with the language etc. would make it hard for me to ask a stranger if I got lost, and I had a lot of driving to do.

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@ Golverd

"I do like to speed on highways; my car does about 240 km/h and I regularly meet that limit"

Yes, no doubt whilst travelling 10cm behind another vehicle, on the mobile and reading a newspaper - like most of your damned compatriots on the roads here.

(I live in NL as well)

Will be interested to see your reaction when you get your article 5 ('crazy/dangerous driving') ticket of 500 Euros when you get stopped. Do Holland & Belgium still impound and crush cars caught speeding above a certain threshold? I do hope so......

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fastest vs shortest

Does anyone actually use the 'shortest route' option for trying to get anywhere? The only use I've found for it is playing greenlane roulette. You take an area with lots of ancient vehicular rights of way (out here in the Pyrenees is good), plus a GPS widget which knows about them, and drive randomly into the countryside. You then drive home via the shortest route.

A couple of rounds of this game will teach you exactly how useful the 'shortest route' option is. I've got a land rover defender, and even that has failed to follow the route on one occasion (there was a 6' oak tree growing out of the middle of the road - I guess I was the first bit of traffic in a while).

What would be good, though, is a GPS which remembers what speeds you generally drive down certain roads or types of roads, perhaps according to the time of day, and adjusts accordingly. That would mean that anyone stumbling across a heavily traffic-calmed residential road would probably do so only once. It would also stop the thing sending me down motorways all the time when I can't go faster than about 60.

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The answer is...

Include (if not already included) the speed limit of the road in the SatNav database. Include a speed limiting device in the car. Match the two up and people won't speed. Help people not to break the law.

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Kids. Tch.

There'sa fine balance between stupid kids and introuduced hazards.

My kid aint stupid - far from it, but I still worry about her getting knocked down in our residential street because off the assholes who drive far too fast. Probably they won't see her crossing the road because they are too busy looking at the satnav screen.

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Anonymous Coward

The Solution ....

Teach Kids how to cross roads so they don't run out in front of cars

what happened to the Green Cross road ad's, you never see them on TV any more and i bet schools are not teaching kids it either

its so easy to blame car drivers and sat nav's, etc but the problem is not teaching the kids road safety

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Unhappy

Re. The Solution....

"what happened to the Green Cross road ad's, you never see them on TV any more and i bet schools are not teaching kids it either"

If only that were the case!

My sister is a UK schoolteacher (for 6-7 year olds). Her main complaint is that it IS the schools these days who are expected to teach the kids road safety ; parents somehow see it as something else the education system has to provide. Many of her intake each year have absolutely no concept of kerb drill (showing my age there).

Perhaps wikipedia can do it for them......it seems to be education's panacea for everything else these days :-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tufty_Club#Tufty

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Pirate

OMG

Someone call Panorama, quick!

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