Safety warnings over sat navs

Road safety campaigners have warned about the dangers of drivers being over dependent on satellite navigation technology, after the number of drivers using the devices overtook those who do not for the first time.

Motorists who choose to get by without a sat nav are now in the minority, the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey showed.

Traditional map-reading skills are becoming a thing of the past, with 52 per cent of drivers reporting that they used sat navs to get them to their destination last year.

The previous year, drivers without sat navs slightly outnumbered the 48 per cent who did use the devices.

The rise in use of sat navs has been linked to a number of fatal accidents.

Research by road safety charity Brake found seven per cent of drivers have had a near miss, having to swerve or brake suddenly to avoid a hazard because they were distracted by a sat nav.

The charity said there is evidence using a sat nav can make motorists drive faster and be less observant, placing themselves and others at risk.

Gary Rae, Brake’s campaigns manager said, ‘The sat nav is there to help you keep focused on driving rather than worry about directions, but it’s not there to make all the decisions for you.’

‘Driving is an unpredictable activity, so you still need to look at signs, particularly those warning of hazards or speed limits, and watch for people and unexpected problems.’

In 2009, just 32 per cent of drivers said they used either an integrated, hand-held or plug and go system.

The NTS figures for 2014 show that 39 per cent of motorists use a portable sat nav while 13 per cent have an integrated system in their vehicle.