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Sat navs have now become so common, that anecdotal evidence suggests that companies like Halfords are struggling to sell quite as many as they used to — simply because we’ve all got one already.
Once you include smartphones, then sat nav penetration levels become even higher — and that’s before you look at the newer end of the car market, where navigation systems are often fitted as standard.
Have you heard about the driver who followed his sat nav and drove off a pier?
Stories about drivers who have got into trouble by blindly following their sat navs continue to crop up in the media. Funnily enough, the one thing all of these stories have in common is that they probably wouldn’t have happened to drivers who had been using a paper map (and their brains).
In How to Get More from Your Satnav, author R. T. Scanlon confronts the problems that have been created by the blind trust many drivers have in their sat nav, and explains how you can overcome them by using your sat nav more intelligently.
Scanlon also reviews a current high end sat nav model — the TomTom Go Live 1000 — and looks at the current state of sat nav design, questioning whether the real problem with sat navs is the way they are designed.
You and your sat nav
As Scanlon explains, the two biggest problems drivers have with sat navs are:
- Following directions to an incorrect destination
- Following directions that are correct but not appropriate for the vehicle — e.g. lorries down narrow country lanes
The author’s core message is that both of these problems can be avoided if the user adopts a more thoughtful and careful attitude, using the sat navs maps to check the destination when the route is selected, and keeping their eyes on the horizon and road ahead in order to spot when their sat navs directions might be in appropriate.
Remember – it’s still a map
Scanlon also looks at how to get the best out of your sat nav’s routing software by influencing and analyzing the route it chooses. He offers some good advice, although it does get a little more complicated than is really necessary, I think.
The main point to remember, as Scanlon stresses regularly, is that a sat nav is a computer with maps and a screen. Drivers need to look at those maps when planning a route, just as they used to look at paper maps in ‘the old days’.
Are sat navs as good as they can be?
There’s not doubt that sat navs have improved a lot over the last few years, and Scanlon reviews some of the features available on modern top-end sat navs, including a look at smartphone sat nav apps and live traffic data services.
However, he also raises the question of whether the limited horizons and restricted map view provided by sat navs is one of the reasons for the problem — it would, he says, be useful if sat navs provided a larger-scale view of the route, perhaps allowing drivers to switch between detailed close-ups and wider views of the surrounding area.
How to Get More from Your Satnav is well written, thorough and provides a useful guide for drivers that should enable them to make sat nav use far more accurate, stress-free and satisfying.
The book’s underlying message is that you still need to look at the map — and you need to pay attention to the roads, signs and landscape ahead of you. Do this, and follow Scanlon’s other advice, and you should enjoy trouble-free sat nav navigation and faster journeys.
Title: How to Get More from Your Satnav
Author: R. T. Scanlon
Paperback: 130 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouseUK (15 Feb 2012)