back to article Satnav blunders blamed for £200m damages

Satnavs caused more than £200m worth of vehicle damage in the last year and with over three quarters of users misled, our digital roadmap advisors are literally driving us up the wall. Motorists blamed satnavs for £203m of damage over the last 12 months, claims, which polled 2,000 drivers. While 83 per cent …


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  1. Geoff May

    I wonder if ...

    Captain Edward Smith said "There are no icebergs on my map so it must be the fault of the maps" ...

    1. LarsG

      My satnav

      Took me from Winsford to Northwich via a road that narrowed to a sunken lane wide enough for a small car to a gated railway crossing that had not been opened in twenty years.

      Actually, I didn't get as far as the gate, a coach had got stuck and they were towing it out.

      Tom Tom

  2. Colin Millar

    Do they have a list

    I'd like to see every one of them off the road

    These people shouldn't be allowed out without supervision. Anyone who crashes and blames their satnav should be charged with driving without due care or dangerous driving

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. ItsNotMe

      Re: Do they have a list

      It's called "Digital Darwinism". Welcome to the 21st century folks. Mind that sharp dropoff on your left please.

      Actually...anyone who blames a crash on a SatNav should NEVER be allowed to drive again.

  3. Lockwood

    "Turn right."

    "Oooo! I see a sign with Ford on it. I'm driving a Mondeo. This must be a special shortcut for me!"

    "Turn around when possible"

    "Stupid thing! Why did you tell me to go this way, then? Why are my feet wet?!"

    1. Peter Simpson 1


  4. Aaron Em

    No kidding?

    I've tried them, and between incorrect directions and a moving map consistently thirty seconds or a minute behind the actual vehicle, I still haven't been able to figure out how anyone uses the damn things at all. Call me old-fashioned, but what's wrong with paying attention to road signs and maybe checking an atlas once in a while? Surely that takes less time than is wasted in wrong turns, outdated map info, and completely unnecessary journeys!

    1. Giddy Kipper

      Re: No kidding?

      You're old-fashioned.

      But really. A minute *behind* the vehicle? Surely you would have shot straight past Sainsburys by then and possibly ended up in the nether regions of Matalan. Have you ever tried a journey of more than 180 seconds from your house using the new fangled technology?

      1. Aaron Em

        Re: Re: No kidding?

        "Have you ever tried..." Yes. After it had failed to catch up with the car once in thirty miles' driving on both highways (~70mph) and surface roads (~35), I required its owner to remove it from the windshield and serve as an interface between me and it -- it was a distraction to begin with, and trying to reconcile where I actually was with where the idiot device thought I was took more of my attention away from driving than I was comfortable with.

        Look, I'm not entirely against them, but I have the same requirement as I do for any other kind of navigation while I'm driving -- specifically, that somebody else does it, whether that's the person in the next seat over or me when I've stopped for a leak. The rest of the time I'm too busy making sure I don't kill somebody with a ton of car to be worrying about maps and suchlike. Excepting cases like the professional truck driver who turned up somewhere else in the comments, this doesn't seem all that stringent a requirement to me.

        Bad signage -- Can't help you there; I'm a septic and ours are actually pretty decent, at least around where I live right now. (Everywhere else I've ever lived has been small enough you didn't really need signs to find your way around, or a car either mostly for that matter.) Sure, you're not going to see a sign that says "Ednor Road, turn right two intersections ahead" -- but why would there be? You are expected to be able to use a map.

    2. Nuke

      Re: No kidding?

      Aaron Em wrote :- "what's wrong with paying attention to road signs"

      On reason is that they are so bad. Have you never been following signposts to xyz-ville, only to have them dissappear from later signs, despite getting nearer. And once in a town, they do not help you find a particular street, which is usually the hardest part.

      Another reason is that they often want you to follow non-optimum routes for various reasons, like reducing the traffic going past the local council's Chief Executive's house, and taking you through the industrial park they are trying to promote.

      .."and maybe checking an atlas once in a while"

      I do. I use a combination of planning with the atlas and setting up the route on the navigator with the waypoints I want. Even though you have seen the atlas, it does not tell you when a turning you need is 500 yards ahead (unless you have an expert human navigator sat next to you).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see a market oppertunity...

    How about a Find My Arse App for those who are having difficulty with the required navigation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see a market oppertunity...

      "How about a Find My Arse App for those who are having difficulty with the required navigation."

      The 'pro' version could also find elbows.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Re: I see a market oppertunity...

        ....and the "Pro XL" version will tell you the difference between them.

    2. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: I see a market oppertunity...

      Wouldn't work, you'd have to take both hands off the steering wheel!

  6. SuperTim

    map costs

    Will they make it compulsory to provide the latest maps for free? I very much doubt it. Outdated maps are usually so because of the high price of upgrading.

    My sat nav is about 5 years old. It seems to think the M6 stops at Junction 15 and makes me go through Stoke*

    * for our american friends reading this, Stoke on trent is where Robbie Williams (the so-called pop star) is from. It is the arse-end of nowhere**

    ** Apologies to readers from stoke, but it's true.

    1. GavinL

      Re: map costs

      My Tom Tom maps for the car (Built into my Megane) cost £45 for the year, more than a map book but a lot less than the £300 pounds for my previous Laguna, and that if there were any.

      And Stoke is the Arse-end of the A50

    2. cosymart


      I have just bought a Garmin and for a few quid more included lifetime map updates. Had 2 updates to GB map data in the couple of months since I bought it.

    3. John Arthur

      Re: map costs

      My Garmin has lifetime updates, normally four times a year, of the maps for the whole of Europe for a measly £70 or thereabouts.

      1. Dapprman

        Re: Re: map costs

        I've got the lifetime updates for my garmin as well, but navteq, whom both Garmin and Tomtom get their data from, still have not added the changes at Adlgate/Whitechapel despite them being a busy main commute road that was changed some 3-4 years ago.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Re: map costs

        70 quid? Torrents are free and I've found all the map updates to date.

        When I've paid handsomely for the device, they can go whistle for their fee for flogging public-domain information to go with it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Navigational aid

    They are navigational aids, not devices to be followed blindly. I always check the routes it plans out for me before I set off. Chances are a route it thinks is faster is actually slower.

    When I have had to follow it blindly was a Friday afternoon when I needed to go South and the M6 was shut and the M1 was down to 1 lane South. I used the traffic feature to avoid the jams and go cross country. It was bloody disconcerting. I had no idea where I was and was relying on its routing based on the realtime traffic info. It did the job but I didn't like it one bit. Had no real idea where I was or where I was heading. The idea people could drive around like this all the time is terrifying.

  8. Mondo the Magnificent

    Backup plan

    I have a 2012 Ford Focus with in built Satnav and it does the job "most of the time"

    Often it will not acknowledge postcodes and has even sent me up a muddy farm road en route to a customer in a little village in Derbyshire! Needless to say my front wheel drive Focus played duelling traction control / ABS whilst tackling the incline from hell.

    Being a little wiser, I also carry a Garmin unit in the armrest and used this to navigate back from this customer and did so without having to tackle what would have been the decline from hell.

    Now I don't expect every motorist to have two different Satnav systems on hand, but in my case it certainly has paid off when either Ford equipped or Garmin units refuse to accept a postcode based destination.

    I believe that the manufacturers need to encourage user feedback via Forums so we can let them know when and where they go wrong.

    Another factor is that although Satnavs have come down in price, they're still not cheap, so people tend to hang on to them for a while.

    However road layouts change all the time and as updated maps are not free or cheap, most Satnav users come across the perils or frustrations of a Satnav getting you lost or getting into a difficult situation.

    Perhaps the manufacturers should charge a little more for the Satnav units and provide free updates as well as collaborating user feedback to make the Satnavs a little smarter

    Also, Google have photographed most of the world for their Maps service, so why don't the Satnav manufacturers approach the Chocolate Factory for photographic references in known "bad spots"

  9. tanj666

    Clarion - are you paying attention?

    I have a satnav built into my Honda. Car was new last year, maps were already 2 years out of date and no sign of an update for the clarion manufactured head unit.

    Manufacturers should be forced to keep updates rolling out at least annually to be available for sale in the UK.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Clarion - are you paying attention?

      It is a shame, my crusty old Garmin C510 got a £40 map update very recently (Seriously just look for the update sd or cd on their site they still develope them for older street pilot units). Much better than forking out for a new device that has a few more bells and whistles.

      So Clarion beat that and give tan an update!

      1. Vic

        Re: Re: Clarion - are you paying attention?

        > my crusty old Garmin C510 got a £40 map update very recently

        My whole GPS unit was £45 delivered...


  10. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    There was never any comparable complaint of inaccuracy in the days when motorists used maps to navigate. And maps were liable to be much more out-of-date.

    Possibly the mental effort of map-reading was too much for the idiots who now blindly follow satnavs, so they never went anywhere.

    1. NogginTheNog

      Re: Maps

      That's because a printed map, even an A-Z, never gave you turn-by-turn directions down to within a few metres, so you were always using them for guidance, then using your own abilities and making your own decisions.

      My own preferred navigation method for going somewhere I've never been before is to research the route on Google Maps, maybe print some out for reference, maybe even check out Streetview for a 'real world' look at the landscape. Then I go there with all that in my head, the printed reminders, and an AA map in the seat pocket. It works well enough 70-80% of the time.

      1. Sean Baggaley 1

        Re: Maps

        ^^^ This.

        I've driven from London to Rome a few times now, without even touching a map en route—except once, when there was some construction going on around Strasbourg.

        There are these wonderful inventions called "road signs" that tell you which way to go. It's not that difficult. Check the route before you go. Make a mental (or written) note of which key cities you're likely to be heading for on each leg, then pin that list to your sun visor. In Europe, you can often just make a note of the EU-wide "E" routes, many of which run across multiple countries.

        (If memory serves—it's been a couple of years since I last made such a journey as the petrol costs have become prohibitive—French motorway signage always includes the "E" route number as well as the national number. In Switzerland, they often don't bother displaying their own numbers on the motorway signage and just use the "E" number instead.)

        A paper map as backup should be all you need.

        1. Nuke

          @ Sean Baggaley 1

          Finding the way to a large city using motorways and other major roads is relatively easy from the signs. I expect that "Rome" features on the signs from 200 or more miles away, like "London" does.

          Ever heard the expression "All roads lead to Rome"?

          Finding the way to Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh is a greater challenge, even though you may be within 5 miles of it. Or finding Acacia Avenue, Tunbridge Well.

      2. Peter Richardson

        Re: Re: Maps

        "Then I go there with all that in my head, the printed reminders, and an AA map in the seat pocket. It works well enough 70-80% of the time."

        Exactly what I do too. I found four problems with sat-navs: not all locations on are them, particularly if you don't have a postcode for something, it can take minutes to get a signal, they are poor at getting you to specific locations in the countryside, where postcodes cover large areas and they reduce your own ability to navigate, thus leaving you utterly inept if a sat-nav isn't handy at all times.

        I found using sat-navs regularly left me dependent on them as I couldn't learn new routes easily. So when ours broke and we couldn't afford to replace it straight away, I was lost... Now, using a combination of maps, street view and road signs I can get almost anywhere without any fuss at all. I spend about 4-5 minutes studying my route, about as long as it takes to find, plug in, program and wait for a signal on a typical sat nav...

        I may be lucky though, I appreciate this is a skill that varies from person to person. Some folk could look at a map all day and not make any sense of it at all.

        OTOH, in a busy city that I don't know, having a sat-nav in glove box is a handy back up!

    2. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Maps

      I preferred it when my girlfriend would map read, I would just stay quiet listening to her explanations as to why she'd gone wrong!

  11. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Its a Tool FFS

    Drive your car, don't let the SatNav drive the car for you.

    I plan my route on a map, write down the major roads and if I get lost or start to get confused then I will use the satnav (Normally sitting on the favourite for my destination so I don't have to look at the screen).

    If people want to put their satnav in the way of where they are driving then they should accept they are being stupid.

    1. Ru

      Which is the tool really,

      The navigational tool, or the tool navigating with it?

    2. Steve Evans

      Re: Its a Tool FFS

      Exactly my thoughts Captain.

      Before I set off I make sure I at least have a rough idea where I'm going, and what direction it is in.

      This ancient technique came in handy on Malta recently, no sat nav, and they don't believe in signs before roundabouts telling you where each exit goes. If you are lucky they will have each exit labelled on the roundabout itself, but don't count on it. Luckily 'tis a small island, and keeping an eye on the sun keeps you going in roughly the right compass direction... I guess the satnav zombie would be all over the road purely so they can keep the sun in sight if they tried this technique!

  12. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I wonder what the cost of paper map mistakes is?

    And indeed of accidents caused by map reading.

    And a few murders.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder what the cost of paper map mistakes is?

      If you added up all the stats published daily about costs due to this and benefits accrued to that, then you'd be wasting time you could have spent on the other.

  13. kain preacher Silver badge

    The GPS on my Android 2 is far better than my friends Tom tom.

    1. Dapprman

      Think it depends where you're going

      I've used the previous version of Gogole maps (as it was updated in the alst couple of days) on my Android phone (2.3.3) and found it to be poor comapred to my Garmin.

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Garmin is especially incompetent

    I paid $290 for an update to my Garmin device about 3 years ago, only to find it didn't include my rather large subdivision, which has existed since 1984. I did other spot checks of places I was familiar with, and they were 8-15 years out of date too.

  15. DPWDC

    Best Alt Tag, EVER!

    "Dog using a sat nav"... Made me chuckle anyway!

  16. Dr Insanity

    Common Sense

    Surely there has to be a point when a driver says "That turning would drive me directly into a building, perhaps I should ignore the satnav this time."

    Driver aids are just that, aids! Technology not a substitute for actual driving ability! ABS is not a substitute for leaving appropriate braking distances and slowing down a bit in the wet. Lane control is not a substitute for staying awake and aware while on the motorway, and Satnav is not a substitute for looking at the road and applying the old noodle!

  17. Mark 49

    Sounds similar to when the Yanks went crazy about "Sudden Acceleration Events". All the research pointed to big fat dumb people who couldn't tell their left foot from their right. Yet, the research conclusion wasn't allowed to say that.

    Here we've got the same thing, dumb people who get offended when told they're dumb.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      "....dumb people who get offended when told they're dumb."

      Apparently two people (so far) were offended enough by that to downvote you. Made me laugh........

    2. Aaron Em

      "Sudden acceleration events"

      Toyota recalled better part of ten million vehicles just because that many drivers had two left feet? Really?

      Can't speak for anyone else's downvote, but mine's for being smug about not doing the research.

  18. MrJP

    I just use my Samsung SII

    It uses Googles satellite imagery for mapping so you get an actual detailed photographic route of where you're going, not just some beige/red/green/blue drawing. It not only accepts postcodes but pretty much any descriptive information you could think of i.e. if you'd expect to see a map result when you search for something on Google desktop, the SII will automatically map a route there, so no more having to ask for postcodes most of the time. And if you're so inclined (which admittedly I haven't yet been, it will automatically offer you Street View navigation when you reach your destination if you need to proceed on foot) And the 4+ inch screen is more than adequate and larger than some dedicated sat nav devices I've seen. I have to say it's probably one of the biggest value adding features of a smartphone.

  19. Tringle

    I'm discontinued . .

    According to Navman, as far as my N20 is concerned Western Europe has been discontinued.

    So I couldn't update even if I wanted to. Although, I can, apparently throw this working unit in the bin and buy a newer model. How kind of them to offer.

    But in the days when there were updates available they were more 75% of the price of the unit. I bought a paper map instead for roughly 5% of that price.

  20. mittfh


    ...use your built-in navigational aids - namely your optical processing equipment (eyes and brain).

    As others have said, SatNavs are supposed to be a guide only, and are only accurate down to a few hundred metres (so they probably can't tell you "No, not this road - the next one!"). If it tells you to turn right in 800 yards, you don't screech to a halt and take the nearest drive / track / lane then blindly go on because there's insufficient room to "turn around when possible".

    They always prioritise classified roads, so unless you're trying to get to the back end of nowhere, chances are they're not going to send you down a single track unclassified road with Cornish Hedges on either side!

    1. Phil A.

      Re: Alternatively...

      If your SatNav is only accurate to a few hundred metres, it's time to buy a new SatNav!

      I do agree that they should only be used as an aid and not as an absolute, though

  21. Stu_The_Jock

    Outdated maps ?

    They'll never force makers to issue lifetime free updates, but it should at least have a 6 or 12 month "latest map" included in the price. My Tomtom (now 6 months old) tells me the maps are 7 months old . . yet their "latest map guarantee" never got me the update withing the 3 month windiw it shoud have done That said it still shows the speed limit on the main road between Stavanger and Kristiansand (That's in Norway) as 90km/h, and they have done for 10 yrs, despite the fact the limit there has NEVER been 90, has always been 80, and I know of at least 8 people that have used the "report errors" function to send in corrections over the last few years. Nice to see they pay attention . . .


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