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back to article Feds to carmakers: 'Rein in high-tech dashboards'

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its first-ever guidelines designed to curb driver-distracting dashboards stuffed with electronic gadgets, gimcrackery, and gee-gaws "These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for …

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Pint

Recommendation prompted by *a* fatal accident?

*A* fatal accident? One? ...Humans are doomed.

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Anonymous Coward

Downvoted because...

... you didn't read or comprehend the article you're commenting on.

> "That recommendation was prompted ***in part*** by a fatal accident [ ... ] "

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WTF?

Now where id I put the remote?

So doing 11 texts in 11 minutes is OK then if you are not sleepy.?Get a grip!

I didn't see a fatal accident. I did see a bloke in a car with a fondleslab (not exactly small) stuck on the windscreen directly under the mirror - playing a movie. It obscured that bit of the screen you would be looking to see a pedestrian stepping off the pavement. But hell, if the ped can see Ihe was watching a movie - he would be at fault to step out?

It wasn't a fatal because we were doing all of 1 mph on the A4 out of London. When he hit the M4 would he turn it off? would he remove it from the screen? Especially if the exciting vit was just coming up?

There is no amount of lethal foolishness you don't see on the road. At least you don't have to build it in and give some credence to this nonsense. Make it illegal and even more illegal to use a homemade substitute.

As, I hope, a responsible driver - the inconvenience is nothing at least and miniscule at most. Something I think we can bear.

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Unhappy

Sad really

that you must put common sense into actual guidelines or law. A driver hurtled through a school zone yesterday whilst texting and nearly cleaned up 4 kids crossing the pedestrian crossing, including my own, he noticed at the last moment and skidded just meters away. The bastard is lucky to be walking today.

What is so bloody important that you MUST read that text message, is it more important than keeping yourself or someone else alive by paying attention to the traffic around you.

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Agreed, Fozzy.

Here in Sonoma, the wife & I keep our heads on a swivel when walking within 3 blocks of The Plaza. The fucking tourists are more interested in following their fucking SatNavs than the CLEARLY displayed street signs pointing the way to the Mission, the Barracks, General Vallejo's house, etc. I won't get into the local kids and realestate agents texting, except to say that they are just as bad.

When you're driving in the RealWorld[tm], fucking DRIVE, mouth breather! It's kind of important! Goddamn Nintendo generation ...

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FAIL

Re: Agreed, Fozzy.

Not to mention that since they're tourists in one of the wine producing areas of California, they're probably well on their way to several times the legal limit of alcohol consumption when driving... Have the same problem in Napa Valley, and I've learned to watch out for anybody who seems not to know exactly where they're going. Almost got T-boned a couple of days ago by an obliviot who thought nothing of blasting through a red light while making a left turn and doing at least 40 mph through the turn ... I had the green for several seconds when he crossed in front of me... It's gotten to the point where you don't dare start across when the light turns green because too many people are in too big a hurry and feel that the red light doesn't apply to them because they're "TOO IMPORTANT", even when they're driving a POC rice rocket. <POC = piece of cr*p>

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@LateNightLarry

Napa's worse ... The Wife & I lived in Yountville[0] for a while, until we found this place.

On "nice weekends", the stop & go tourists from roughly Oakville Crossroads to Calistoga & beyond on Hwy29 has folks looking at options during the return trip, which usually means The Trail on the way home. Tipsy tasters tempting twistybits[1]. Oh joy. The only reason we even got out of bed on the weekends was because of those infernal hot-air balloons firing up before dawn ... fuckers make a racket. All the locals hate 'em.

At least Hwy12 gets the idiots whoaed down thru' the Sonoma Valley ... Nobody takes Arnold in either direction more than once, unless they live off of it.

That's POS[2], not POC.

[0] I'm not tired of saying "that's pronounced "yont", not "yount"" anymore.

[1] For small values of "twisty", of course :-)

[2] "Piece of Shit" and "Point Of Sale" ... twins separated at birth?

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Angel

Re: Sad really

I think there's a disconnect in a lot of people's heads. They treat driving as a background task - something that gets in the way of real life. Mobile phones have meant they can go beyond 'zoning out' and can now actually escape.

I see it differently. When I get behind the wheel the rest of my life almost ceases to exist. I become a driver. For the duration of the journey nothing matters to me other than operating the vehicle and observing my environment. That not only seems to have made me a safer driver (25 years and no crashes or tickets) but it means I enjoy driving. For me it remains a fascinating and interesting experience not just some boring interlude.

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Re: Sad really

Common sense doesn't come into it. If a car manufacturer can boost sales by shoving a Twitter app into their car they'll do it. And if its there then people will use it.

Look at what Tesla have planned for their Model S. They've basically bolted a huge tablet to the car dashboard. Aside from engine management they intend to use it as a web browser, maps, media centre, and an app store. There may be restrictions whil driving on browsing and other functionality but is it a blanket restriction? e.g could a twitter app still permit voice activation? Does it show stuff on the screen while the car is in motion? etc.

Tesla is an extreme example but you can bet your boots the entire industry is moving in this direction. I can totally see how people will be so busy playing with their apps that they'll smash straight into the nearest pedestrian or wall.

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Re: Sad really

100 years ago, Kin Hubbard, through his Abe Martin character, said "Ther ain't nuthin' as uncommon as common sense." I think we've regressed.

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Anonymous Coward

"....a 2010 study determined that car accidents actually increased a bit after handheld mobile phone talking ... [bans] .... were enacted..."

I predicted this blindingly obvious consequence, back when the UK was about to enact our ban on using mobile phones in while driving. Subsequent personal anecdotal evidence has borne this out [I cycle 6 miles to work every morning, alongside a main dual carriageway, leading into the city centre and get plenty of opportunities to see what people get up to in their cars].

Whereas previously, I'd see people talking on the phone, but at least looking in the direction they were going, nowadays the majority seem to have the phone on their lap and be glancing down, typing text messages —which has got to be several times more dangerous.

Another great law brought to you by the "Legislate first. Consider human nature afterwards" school of government!

And, while we're on the subject of distraction-free motoring, can someone please tell me —without using the words "advertising" or "revenue"— why it's perfectly permissable to erect huge billboards, angled towards the motorist and featuring attention-grabbing imagery such as models in lingerie, alongside our busiest roads. Yet people have been arrested for "driving without due care and attention" for [amongst other things] eating an apple, while behind the wheel.

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Anonymous Coward

@madra

Downvoted and a hearty congratulations for taking the blindingly obvious troll bait in the article.

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Advertising is

not allowed on Motorways which in general are probably our busiest roads.

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FAIL

Insane troll logic rides again

"People break the law, so laws are stupid and we shouldn't have them!"

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Premeditation and illogic

The BAN didn't cause the additional wrecks - the idiots breaking the law caused the wrecks. The illogic (and basic immaturity) of blaming a reasonable law for somehow "creating" lawbreakers is depressing.

Even more depressing is that such a law is even necessary. The point the defenders of phone use while driving keep missing is, it's stupid and dangerous.

There is no legitimate need for anyone to be chatting while driving. In case of an emergency or reporting an accident, the driver should get off the road. That has been the rule since automobiles were first licensed. Upset, worried, and/or panicked people are not focused enough to keep their mind on avoiding other vehicles or pedestrians at any speed.

Another point selfish cell phone users prefer to ignore is the absolute, documented scientific evidence drivers on cell phones are as distracted and almost un-seeing as if they were intoxicated. No one with any intelligence disagrees with those results.

It is also proven talking to an actual passenger in the vehicle is NOT distracting in the same way, because the driver's brain does not keep trying to "see" what isn't present. The brain is a marvelous thing, but it can't cope with an excess of additional and missing input simultaneously.

Given the danger is well known, my opinion is those who talk on phones, or text, or watch movies, etc., while driving are as criminal as those who drive drunk, and that all the preceding must be mentally ill to the point of sociopathic if they believe their "convenience" or "entertainment" is more important than others' health and lives.

They are premeditatedly, intentionally, taking an action that could result in the deaths of others. Last I looked, that is one of the definitions of a murderer.

Those who disagree might spend a little time pondering the opinion of the victims - granted, an exercise in imagination, since the dead have been robbed of the ability to express it.

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Bronze badge

We have a number of vehicles here in Australia that already have this "safety" feature on disabling the configuration of the built-in dash GPS while the vehicle is in motion.

The first thing I get asked when people find out I, ahem, "dabble" in electronics, is can I disable that interlock to make the GPS receiver useful again?

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And what is your reply?

Do you offer to fix it for them?

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Nanny controls

You see this in the states as well. In dash GPS devices that are not fully functional while the car is moving. Thank you nanny Toyota, but I may have a passenger that can safely operate a GPS while in motion.

None of this is new. Decades ago I would see people reading books, maps, etc while driving long before there was anything more than a push button radio for technology. The problem is the driver not the tool. Have a distracted driver law on the books and call it good. We don't need a separate rule for every different tool that comes out each year.

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Re: Nanny controls

Yeh, but 25 years ago, there was no technical way to suspend or disable paper maps and tourbooks, unless a cop made a fast observation AND decided to act on it.

I'm appalled by and infuriated by asshole motorists who think they have a right to glance at these things when the vehicle is in motion. They should plan their trip, study their itinerary, and practice it before starting the car. If they have memory issues, pull the hell over and figure things out at a safe stopping point.

The problem with the idea that a passenger may need to use the instruments is that they are not in hard, non-movable console hoods. They often are viewable by and controllable by drivers, too. TVs on the front passenger sun visor should be intensely illegal, even if the driver cannot 'comfortably' see it. Discomfort will not keep drivers from dozing off, and so why would discomfort prevent drivers from cranking or crooking their necks to watch a show?

Motorists have NO damned reason to while in motion and in supposed control of a vehicle absorb the levels of information typically processed by military and commercial pilots in mission planning and during flight. Punishment needs to be updated to address deliberate choices or addiction-based compulsion in the use of unnecessary instruments/instrumentation and superfluous readouts -- whether built-in or mounted in or carried into a vehicle.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed a yellow taxi cab driver almost run over a granny because the fool driving the taxi was talking in his iphone or bluetooth (IIRC, I saw both in use) and drove into the intersection and cut her off. Unforgivable maneuver!

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Anonymous Coward

but my Sat-Nat told me to go this way

Said the driver who ignored the THREE no Entry signs and drove down a narrow one way street as if it was 100ft wide.

Guess who was coming the other way? Yep me. There were also some other vehicles behine me.

The Plonker would'nt believe that he was in the wrong for a good 15 minutes.

Then he tried to reverse down the street. He'd gove only a few feet when he ran into a parked car and set it's alarm off.

More frayed tempers until the local Plod arrived some 20 minutes later.

The B*D's threatened to arrest me if I didn't move my car after I'd pointed out that I was blocked in front and back.

Then the idiot who'd caused the whole mess reveresed right into their nice new Beemer 5 Series.

They put him in cuffs in less than 20 seconds.

I got out of the street after an hour.

Then the Plod had the temerity to caution the guy in the car behind me for using his mobile phone sitting behind the wheel of his car.

He was stationary with the engine switched off. He could not move anywhere.

The Polis as just as bad as every other driver.

The only way to drive these days is to take the attitude that every other driver is out to kill you at the earliest opportunity.

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Re: but my Sat-Nat told me to go this way

Its always the bad apples that get noticed.

Just like I'm sure the majority of motorcycle riders aren't cunts who carve you up because they can.

Many of us can use a sat-nav the right way. Its an aid to driving but shouldn't be left to drive the car.

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Re: but my Sat-Nat told me to go this way

Over here they are much better trained.

They are all able to work a Panasonic Toughbook - bolted to the dash - while driving.

The advanced ones can do this while drinking a coffee and eating a donut

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Simple solution

...make everyone ride motorbikes.

No traffic jams, cheaper running costs, no gadgets to play with (unless you really *must* have that Goldwing) not even a radio, and ultimately everyone pays a lot more attention to WTF they're doing when broken bones are the penalty for not doing so.

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Re: Simple solution

True. Whenever I begin riding again it sharpens me up and it transfers to my car driving as well.

Of course the car is a 26 year old 944 and hasn't even got a cupholder. Made to be driven, not a mobile living room.

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Re: Simple solution

What, all the time? That'll make the weekly shop for 5 people a bit of a challenge...

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Re: Re: Simple solution

Not sure where to put the child seat or isofix baby carrier either....?

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WTF?

Re: Re: Re: Simple solution

Let's try a trailer.

I manage to cycle home from work collecting two kids on the way. I can't imagine that it would be harder on a motorcycle...

Or I can go to the shops and do a week or two's worth of shopping. Or I can pop into to some nice shops on the way home, a different shop each day and I get better produce at a better price than from the "super"markets...

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WTF?

Re: Re: Re: Re: Simple solution

WTF indeed! I've re-read John Robson's post several times in an attempt to guess what prompted the downvotes. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm reading El Reg or the Daily Fail.

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Happy

Re: Simple solution

Lets try horse pulled carriages, at least there will be a brain paying attention at the front.

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Thumb Down

Re: Re: Simple solution

I'm not sure why I got downvoted either. Someone with a grudge against motorbikers?

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Black Helicopters

Head on a swivel?

Texters, tweakers and twitterers aside...whatever happened to the notion that pedestrians should keep their heads on a swivel and not assume that all those multi-ton hunks of steel will just magically stop as they saunter off the curb? It astonishes me to see folks blithely stepping off the curb with nary a glance to either side, earbuds insulating them from the real world. Sure, they've got "right of way", but that's cold comfort when you're looking at the body bag from the inside.

Cars are supposed to stop for pedestrians, it's true. ALSO in the traffic code is the requirement that the pedestrian shall STOP at the curb, LOOK both ways, and then proceed when it's safe to do so, without forcing traffic to make an emergency stop to accommodate them. Cars must stop when the pedestrian clearly is ready to cross, unless doing so would require a dangerous stop.

Mom always told me that every driver is actually a homicidal manic intent on killing me. I assume that they can't see, they're not paying attention, and the ones that *do* see me are only interested in racking up points in "Kill The Pedestrian". I cross when I'm sure they can't get me no matter how hard they try. Same applies on the bicycle and the motorcycle. When it comes to traffic, they really ARE out to get you!

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Re: Head on a swivel?

While I agree with you that a pedestrian needs to keep his eyes open, that doesn't help when some arse (normally in a BMW) speeds up when he sees you're about to cross and continues to accelerate while you're walking across the road. Damn near lost my foot once.

Then there's the people who appear to be blind to red traffic lights... and to the half a dozen people crossing the road before they even reach the lights. I almost lost my Mrs the other day thanks to some kid who only realised there was a crossing after he'd got within three inches of her leg.

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Epitaph

Here lies the body of Joshua Gray

Who died defending his right of way.

He was right as could be as he sped along

But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

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"Right of way" != "Priority"

The term "right of way" specifically means the right to "pass and re-pass" along a piece of land, but it does not mean that you get to go first.

"Priority" occurs when the law states you do have to let someone go first, for instance if you are turning from a major road into a minor road across a Stop or Give Way line and a pedestrian is crossing, they have priority. At a Give Way line going from a minor road into a major road other vehicles have priority, as do those who are approaching from your right at a roundabout.

Pedestrians do have priority when they have taken possession of a Zebra Crossing or when they are on a pedestrian crossing (Pelican, Puffin, Toucan etc), but they do *not* have the right to step out into the road and force traffic to stop for them.

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Like so much of car design its all about "style", like some of the ludicrous designs of tail lamps that are hard to see in bright weather etc. Lights are SAFETY components not a *&!^% style statement. The same goes with in car displays, I'm pretty certain the old UK Construction and Use regulations used to specifically prohibits such screens that could be seen by drivers. These seem to have gone the way of the albatross on a stick and need to be revived . If we must have this crap inflicted upon us, then Deactivating sensors need to be part of the PCB in a sealed for life unit and subject to MOT test for tampering.

By the way - as ever much confusion about use of mobiles when driving - hands free is legal - I have the proper hard wired Nokia kit - my phone automatically "picks up" for me... and I can converse safely - certainly more safely than the woman who turned to scream at ther back seat kids while I was following her at around 50 mph on a busy Trunk road yesterday afternoon. Maybe we can ban kids from car as they are a greater distraction.

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Anonymous Coward

I second that

In fact, why don't we just ban kids?

We've got enough people already.

Only after passing tests for intelligence, common sense and appropriate means should people be allowed to make more mouths to feed.

Even once deemed worthy, they should certainly not be PAID MONEY to produce babies.

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Anonymous Coward

Sat-Navs. Can be dangerous, but

OK. So driving while looking at a Sat-Nav can be dangerous, but have you ever tried the alternative.

Trying to read road signs and look at a map, at 6am in the dark and heavy rain, to find an industrial park in the outskirts of say, Antwerp. You have a 22ton delivery on your wagon, and you can't even pronounce the name of the bloody place you are expected to find!

Don't say pull over and stop, their is never anywhere to pull over safely when you need to desperately.

Sat-Navs are the best invention since heaters in the cab!

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Stop

Re: Sat-Navs. Can be dangerous, but

Don't forget the habit we have in the UK of putting that essential direction sign:

- inside a bush, tree or shrub.

- just after the last opportunity to change lane.

- behind the sign with the latest road safety slogan.

- in paint on the surface of the road.

Then there's the way your route becomes signed: Bigtown, All Traffic, Little Piddlington, Axxx (S), Bigtown within just a few miles.

Properly used sat-navs are a great driving aid.

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@Blofeld's Cat

"Properly used sat-navs are a great driving aid."

No, they are not. Why not? I'm glad you asked.

Because they allow TheGreatUnwashed[tm] to turn their minds off.

Tragedy of the commons & all that ...

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@jake

I'm not sure you understand the meaning of 'Tragedy of the Commons' - look it up.

Sometimes, I have to drive somewhere I've never been before. Sometimes, I have to drive alone. On those occasions I find a satnav less distracting than trying to wrestle maps while driving. Other occasions include when there's been a smash on the motorway* and I need an alternate route through an area I don't know well.

* Fender-bender on the freeway, to you.

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This post has been deleted by its author

@Chris Miller:

"Sometimes, I have to drive somewhere I've never been before. Sometimes, I have to drive alone."

Oh no! The horror! The horror!

Why didn't you prepare for your journey first by reading a bloody map and looking at the location on, say, Google Maps or Bing Maps BEFORE you leave? Make a couple of notes if you need to—perhaps jot down the names of any local towns or villages on a Post-IT note and stick it to the back of your sun visor. That way, you'll know what to look for on the signposts. It's not that hard.

Worst case scenario: you just stop by the side of the road and bloody ask someone.

Is it now standard practice in hospitals to rip out your common sense at birth? How do you think people navigated in the bad old days before GPS? Jesus! This is basic navigation, not rocket science!

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Re: @Chris Miller:

"How do you think people navigated in the bad old days before GPS?"

...and how do you think people navigated before maps were easily available?

God, you are so lazy. Just ask someone which direction to go for the town you want to reach, then follow your nose. You can always stop and ask. There's no need for these new fangled map things or even road signs.

I used to have a box full of maps in the boot. Usually a couple of atlas type ones and dozens of town maps. The problem with printed maps is they are often even more out of date than a modern satnav. Even on the day of publication. Need a 2013 road atlas? In the shops now. Getting to a town was relatively easy. Not so for finding a place in the town. Best one was the A1033 from it's junction with the A1079. (Guessing at years), my 1996 map said "Opening late 1997". It opened something like 10 years later but every road atlas always had it in as "opening soon"

Then Multimap came along. I'd print out screen grabs of the relevant areas. Much easier since it was almost always just a single A4 page I could glance at on the passenger seat at a junction or red light.

Then SatNavs came along and I don't have to spend 30mins or more every night planning out my routes for the next day, printing off pages of maps. Or buying/updating out of date printed maps.

My SatNav cost me less than a years supply of printed maps, is more up to date and saves me having to by yet another new map everytime I go to town I've not been to before.

What it boils down to is the driver, not the technology.

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@Sean Timarco Baggaley

You don't drive much, do you (rhetoric question!)? Believing that paper maps and route planner printouts are less distractive than a SatNav can only come from someone who doesn't do long distance trips to foreign areas.

There are quite a few problems with the Google Maps approach. For a start, try entering some address and see where it points you. More often than not it's pointing at the wrong building at the opposite end of the road, and sometimes even the road is wrong. And that is if the map is actually current and doesn't just show a huge field where now is a busy industrial development. Getting to your destination with the notes and printout can be equally difficult because quite often Google's enroute information (for example the name of a certain town you should head to) is not listed on road signs, which means you have to pull over to search in a paper map where this unlisted town actually is.

It's silly to think a mixture of paper sheets and post-it notes would be less distractiive and more safe than using a SatNav. People blindly following their SatNavs or watching moves or texting are a PITA for sure but as someone who grew up in a very busy tourist area in mainland Europe I can tell you that in the old days where people fiddled with maps while driving it wasn't that much better. Reading paper printouts when driving may not be demanding in rural Wales but good luck with your paper notes in a foreign country or in large cities like London, Munich or Prague.

A (good!) SatNav removes a lot of these worries, which at the end of the day are distractions from other tasks of driving (like looking out for other traffic). With a SatNav, I can focus much more on the traffic, and arrive at the destination much more relaxed (less stress = safer).

But I guess you were equally dismissive when your village got running water, electricity and a phone line.

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Happy

@STB

You're that bloke wearing a flat cap in the L-reg Volvo 244 estate with a fish sign on the back, aren't you?

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@Sean Timarco Baggaley

"Why didn't you prepare for your journey first by reading a bloody map and looking at the location on, say, Google Maps or Bing Maps BEFORE you leave? Make a couple of notes if you need to—perhaps jot down the names of any local towns or villages on a Post-IT note and stick it to the back of your sun visor. That way, you'll know what to look for on the signposts. It's not that hard."

I've gone round the one way system a few times in various towns because of poor sign-age. Try driving north up the east coast and you might find one of them. You get exit signs from the town telling you the name of two towns. Unless you are local or have memorised the names and order of every town on a London to Aberdeen drive, you can get stuck in these places. A helpful voice saying "Turn left" at the right time would have saved me hours many years ago.

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Re: @jake (@Chris Miller)

I lived in Harrogate for a couple decades, on and off.

I still haven't figured out where "Knaresborough Forest" is.

I think I have a pretty good idea what "tragedy of the commons" means.

You, Chris, are a symptom of the problem. You want it NOW, but you don't want to actually engage your brain enough to use what you learn today in tomorrows adventure.

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@John Brown (no body)

You claim to know how to read a map, and yet you still prefer a satnav?

I call bullshit.. HAND :-)

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Anonymous Coward

ref bootnote.

Of course accidents increased. idiots who insist on texting whilsy driving had to hide the phones

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jai
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Darwin

Surely, if you're not smart enough to know that you can't Facebook and drive at the same time, then we really don't need you in the same genepool as the rest of us, and we'd be grateful that you remove yourself by smashing your car into the nearest tree, bridge, hole in the ground, etc etc.

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