I wonder if ...
Captain Edward Smith said "There are no icebergs on my map so it must be the fault of the maps" ...
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 Confused.com, which polled 2,000 drivers. While 83 per cent …
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 Surely that takes less time than is wasted in wrong turns, outdated map info, and completely unnecessary journeys!
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?
"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.
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).
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.
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.
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"
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
"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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
...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!
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 . . .
Dated maps are a problem. Considering the mapping companies, builders, OS and many others know where every road is, to the centimetre, and when every new road will be opening, to the minute, it is bizarre that a typical satnav is years out of date, even when brand new, and subsequent updates are also years out of date. It is amazing that paper maps are actually more up to date than electronic ones.
We already pay the OS to make Britain the worlds best mapped country. Why can't we just download updates from them every week ? Either that or there is room for some open source solution. Honestly, distributing up to date map data should be almost a no-op.
> there is room for some open source solution.
The maps are OK - I've seen the occasional error, but nothing significant.
There's also an Android app that stores the maps on your SD card - so it works without connectivity. It's not as slick as Google's navigation app, but it's good enough for me.
 It used to show the Itchen Way going through a large wall with a railway behind it. That's fixed now.
I have had the dubious pleasure of visiting partner firms in mainland Europe, and having all sorts of fun with the satnavs in taxis as I tried to get to their offices ...
(a) Visiting a factory in the less-salubrious suburbs of Paris, the satnav refused to accept the street address of the factory. I had to ask the driver to navigate to another house-number on the street and then point him to the position of the factory.
(b) Visiting an office in Rijswijk, near the Hague, on one occasion the taxi driver missed a turn. The satnav responded by repeatedly asking him to make a right turn ... which would have meant turning into a canal.
I was crewing an ambulance, doing a simple transfer job.
The driver knew the area around the hospital quite well, but not where we were doing the pick up, so we had Satnav running to find the address and get us back out.
On the way back, I'm talking the patient through where we were going, since they weren't comfortable being bounced around a lot. I got a slight shock when we left the main road a junction too soon, and took the back road to the hospital. Along a road that's not seen resurfacing for many many years.
The patient did not enjoy this experience much!
I asked the driver afterwards why we took such an odd route, clearly Satnav's "Shortest route" rather than "Eco route" or "Fastest route", since they knew where the hospital was and how to get there.
"I've never gone that way before. I wanted to see what route it'd take us"
I died a little on the inside.
It's a private hospital in Hampshire.
The experience is worsened by the designers' attitude towards parking.
"This is not an A&E. We do not take emergency patients. Therefore, we do not need an ambulance bay."
There were also not enough car parking spaces, so you had the cars all parked up next to the flower beds on the yellow lines (not legally binding ones, due to private land, but a clear "don't park here" message.
Finding somewhere to park a quite large van, that needs room for a long taillift and room to get off the back of said lift?
Gah, I ahte that hospital!
I've got a Garmin sat nav with maps updated less than a month ago.
I have to say it's location finding is absolutely rubbish. Yesterday for instance, I was going somewhere that isn't on a street, and this is quite a common occurrence for me as a lot of my driving is done in the middle of nowhere. Mr Garmin will not let me go to somewhere that isn't on a street, so it took me to the centre of the postcode, a good 3 miles away from where I actually wanted to be on a single track road* with a LWB Land Rover and trailer. Fun fun fun.
I get out my Android phone, Google finds the place I'm going to pretty quickly and takes me there. If a search engine company can do it, why can't a company that actually makes sat navs?
*It didn't have a huge amount of choice about the road tbf, we were going to a farm down a single track road eventually anyway
I was driving down the M4 when some 10 miles from any junction my Garmin announced "Turn Right!", given that option would have required me driving into the crash barrier I ignored it. It then went into a "recalculating" and proceeded to allow me to continue on the motorway.
I think it was board!
My old Satnav (Navsure) had a few great ideas. After the road to the M6 was closed, and trigger signs were set up diverting to the next junction (badly, the square turned to a circle for a short while), Mr Navsure got the idea that just before we crossed the M6, I do a left turn, then I could join the motorway.
Yes, there was a road going that way, but it was through Sandbach MSA!
I will often divert from the M3 to M27 E/B via Rownhams MSA and turn again at J3.
Mr Navsure had a better idea... Turn left just before the petrol station, turn right onto Rownhams Lane, turn right again, then rejoin the motorway. That'd really annoy Roadchef if everyone did that!
When cars get to the point of driving themselves can we look forward to these sorts of wrong turns?
A major problem with maps is the copyright that governments insist on keeping and trying to make money from. Everyone benefits from more accurate lower costs maps. The taxpayers don't benefit from having them overpriced.
Actually, it's trivial to argue that the taxpayers do benefit, at least in a monetary sense, quite directly -- the more the maps cost, the less of a tax bite it takes to fund the department or bureau charged with producing them (which is no simple task!), and the more of that cost goes to the people actually making use of the result, that is, the people buying the maps. (And if it all came out of taxes, of course we'd just have people whinging about how much that costs instead.)
I normally pre work out a route but rely on memory often. If I have done the route before.
And last holiday I took a turn too early and ended up in a very narrow twisty lane with a caravan on the back. Half hour later turned around and caravan spare wheel fitted I was back on the correct route.
It was my fault for not having a map to hand, sat nav was not in use anyway after a previous instance.
Sat nav - holiday before, well coming out of Cornwall the services I need are not easy to find as they are past the junction and poorly signposted. There are 3 or 4 but only this one is any good. The Shatnav said to stay on the road - went under the bridge and on the right there was the BP garage. It wanted me to drive to the next junction and head back down the dual carriage way to the same junction, about 15 miles more!!!!
Unfortunately I hit one of my sons when I ripped it out of the window and lobbed it into the back.
Anyway I ran out of gas near Bridgewater, and filled up in Bristol, I had already decided that 15 miles more, plus the gas is cheaper at Bristol meant stuff it and run on petrol if I ran out.
Shatnavs are OK to see where you are, but you are better off using O/S maps. I am getting a nice collection of 1/25,000 scale maps now.
Next time I am using Google street view to print out a picture of the A30 junction so I can be sure it is BP Whitehouse and not the useless ones.
i had a job over christmas at uni way back in the late nineties. I was installing training systems in branches of lloyds tsb bank. I was working all over the country, previously before this job the furthest i had driven from my home (i had only been driving for a few months) was 50 miles from leafy surrey to bluewater in kent.
I worked in central london, hull, leeds, newcastle and south wales over the course of this job, and i managed to navigate my way everywhere with nothing but an AA atlas.
while it is possible to get where you need to go using good old fashioned paper maps, the minute you hit a built up area you don't know, you are in trouble. Try finding somewhere legal to pull over for five minutes in london while you check your A-Z, the cctv cameras will be all over you and you will get some lovely letters through the post delightfully telling you you have won the chance to pay westminster council the princely sum of £80.
Sat navs are a great aid, and in some cases a complete god send, but as has been said, people who are stupid enough to follow them without question are..well..stupid. I have co-pilot on my smartphone, it does what i need, it gets free updates, it gives me a backup when need reassurance on a route. its no replacement for actual knowledge, but who has the time to learn all the routes they need to take ahead of time?.
What drivel - how do sat navs cause vehicle damage?
IMO satnavs are a boon, far safer than trying to glance at a map while driving and studying road signs. Far more efficient than stopping to read a map and unlike maps they tell you where *you* are not just where things are.
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