The Sat Nav vs. The Road Map

Imagine the horror of the Daily Mail Online to discover that, as a nation, we are becoming less comfortable with road maps as sat navs begin to take their place.

My question is – are they really that surprised? And why is this necessarily being toted as a bad thing?

Are Sat Navs really dangerous?

Sat navs have provided a valuable service to motorists for years now, and many new cars come with them in built as standard. It’s a rare thing to see a road map in a car anymore. The Daily Mail Online would have it that sat navs are dangerous, leading their charges blindly into the sea or to a foreign country in some malicious act signalling the uprising of computers. The truth, of course, is quite the opposite. With every new development, sat navs are becoming increasingly reliable and resourceful – they can now help you to avoid traffic, warn you about safety cameras and average speed zones, and you can even have Darth Vader’s voice direct you to your destination if that’s up your street. No doubt the possibilities for these in-car devices are endless.

The use of a road map is already a thing of the past.

Compare this to the road map, which increases journey times because you have to stop to check it, or even prove a huge distraction if the driver decides (and never try this) to check the map whilst driving. With a road map, you’re far more likely to take a wrong turn and end up making a detour, using up petrol (and harming the environment in the process) and frustrating the driver. Don’t even get me started of having to ask for directions – these days you’re more likely to find some joker who would find it hilarious to send you in the other direction. Of course sat navs have their failures – but usually only if they are not regularly updated or if the user follows them without some intelligent input, i.e. should they literally follow the sat nav into the sea (or the wrong way.) I challenge the writers of the Daily Mail Online to drive a route across the country, avoiding traffic in the process, with a road map against someone with a sat nav. I think we all know who will be quicker!

Sadly not all drivers use sat navs correctly – this czech lorry driver somehow managed to get wedged down a narrow country lane – did he not think to look where he was going?

Still, for the all the flaws of the article (read here) it did contain a very amusing little story and warning to all sat nav users.

Sabine Moreau from Belgium set off to pick her friend up from a train station just 38 miles away. She jumped in the car, popped what she thought was the destination into the sat nav and set off. 1,800 miles later she made it, after taking a 900 mile detour all the way to Zagreb in Croatia. That is one hell of a trip – I wonder that it didn’t occur to her that she was going the wrong direction sooner – especially after having to cross borders to get to Croatia. Needless to say, I think she was probably a bit late to pick up her friend.