Sat navs have been shown to make driving safer, provided that they are used properly. Here are a few tips to avoid danger on the road, and theft.
Safety on the road
A number of surveys have shown that drivers using sat navs to guide them drive more safely.
- The voiced route instruction helps drivers to concentrate on the road and their driving.
- Drivers do not have to look so hard at signposting, and can keep their eyes on the road.
- Sat nav helps to reduce the stress of driving.
Others argue, however, that sat navs can distract the driver's attention. Drivers glance at the screen display to look at the map and data; some even try to input data by pressing the buttons or touch-screen whilst driving.
The horror stories
Occasionally a sat nav will send an unsuspecting driver down a farm track instead of the intended road a few yards beyond. There have been tales of quiet villages wrecked by an invasion of heavy traffic and lorries, because drivers have been given this as a through-route by their sat navs. And sometimes lorries become wedged in a narrow alleys, guided there by a sat nav. All these occurrences are relatively rare, and becoming rarer with the increased sophistication of sat nav units. It should be noted, however, that sat navs are designed primarily for cars, and do not take account of the size of any larger vehicle they might be used in - and that includes cars towing caravans. That said, some sat navs allow you to set the instructions for motorcycle, car or truck - and will select your route accordingly. So, if you are driving a larger vehicle, choose a sat nav unit that has this facility.
Sat navs have to be used with common sense.
- Do not try to adjust a sat nav unit whilst driving.
- Glance at the sat nav screen only momentarily, as you would a rear-view mirror.
- Do not rely on your sat nav too much, or believe everything it says: always be aware that the sat nav can make errors, or give ambiguous instructions. Be particularly alert to inaccuracy in out-of-the-way places.
Theft of sat navs
Thieves have increasingly targeted portable sat navs - especially if left sitting invitingly in view, attached to the windscreen. To reduce the risk of theft:
- Remove your sat nav and take it with you when leaving the car unattended (manufacturers supply neat little cases to put them in, and sat navs are neither bulky nor heavy).
- If you can't take your sat nav with you, lock it in the boot.
- Do not hide your sat nav in the glove compartment: this is the first place that thieves look.
- For added security, remove the mount from the windscreen: an empty mount suggests to thieves that a sat nav unit is hidden in the car, and they may break in just to satisfy their curiosity.
- For even greater security, when removing the mount, wipe the suction marks off the windscreen - another telltale sign to the thieves.
Check that your car insurance includes theft cover for your sat nav: many car insurance policies have very limited cover for personal possessions. That said, claiming a loss against insurance may not be worthwhile because of the excess payable on any claim, and the impact on your no-claims bonus.