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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
November 10, 2009

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Drivers advised to be ‘satnav’ savvy

Misusing in-vehicle satellite navigation systems is like “driving blind”, a leading motoring organisation has warned.

A recent survey by found that 20 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men have blindly followed a satnav into the middle of a field, and Network Rail has experienced damage to railway bridges and level-crossing collisions as a result of drivers’ failure to use their initiative.

While such incidents are generally made light of in the media, the Institute of Advanced Motorists believes they could have serious consequences. IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Satnavs can be a real aid to road safety, providing the driver already has an idea of the route. Your satnav aids your own navigational abilities — it should not replace them. Have a map as a fall-back and remember: satnavs are no more infallible than the person who uses them, so do have some idea of your route before you set out.”

The Institute is also concerned about the distraction potential of the devices and recommends drivers do the following:

  • Always programme your satnav before you set off, not while you are driving;
  • Use the audible instruction to guide you and only use the screen for a quick glance as a confirmation; and
  • Think about the position of the unit – it shouldn’t obstruct your vision, or be placed where an airbag could be deployed.

It also points out that although there is currently no legislation governing the correct use of satellite navigation equipment, the Police have a number of offences they can apply if they believe the driver to have been ‘driving without due care’ or ‘failing to have proper control’. These could result in the driver receiving between three and nine penalty points on their licence.

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