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Relying on satnav making drivers unsafe: Motorists are driving the wrong-way down one-way streets, making risky U-turns and speeding because of the devices

  • One in 20 drivers gets a speeding fine because of their ‘addiction’ to sat-navs
  • Over-reliance on the devices led nearly one in five to drive ‘dangerously’
  • Drivers said ‘incorrect directions’ had caused them to drive the wrong way

Britain has become a nation of ‘sat nav’ junkies which is causing many motorists to drive dangerously, a report published today.

One in 20 drivers gets a speeding fine because of their ‘addiction’ to sat-navs which show the wrong speed limit, according to the study.

Motorists’ over-reliance on the devices led nearly one in five (18 per cent) of drivers to drive ‘dangerously’.

Britain has become a nation of ‘sat nav’ junkies which is causing many motorists to drive dangerously, a report published today

Drivers said ‘incorrect directions’ had caused them to make a U-turn or to drive the wrong way down a one way street.

And around one in six (17percent) of motorists say their sat-nav has given them the wrong speed limit while out on the road.

The research by comparison website uSwitch concludes that the UK is ‘a nation of satnav junkies’. Some 95 per cent rely on them to find their way to their destination.

Its publication comes ahead of higher speeding penalties coming into effect across England and Wales on Monday (April 24) which will see fines soar.

It also follows a decision by the Government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to include use of a sat-nav in the revamped driving test from December.

The uSwitch report says nearly eight out of ten (78per cent) of drivers now use satnavs or smartphones to guide them on their journeys.

But 56per cent say they also rely on their satnav for the correct speed limit.

Many of the latest devices have the legal road speed programmed into the sat-nav software which tracks the roads and directions.

Some 55per cent of drivers use their devices to warn of approaching speed cameras and half rely on them to keep within the speed limit.

But widespread ignorance of the correct speeds on different types of roads – combined with ‘overdependence on the sat-nav instructions – means many motorists are being fined for breaking the speed limit because the information on the sat nav is wrong, says the report.

One in 20 drivers gets a speeding fine because of their ‘addiction’ to sat-navs which show the wrong speed limit, according to the study

Well over half of drivers (56per cent) don’t know the correct speed limit on single or dual carriageways, for example.

This is compounded because a similar proportion of drivers (58 per cent) fail to upgrade their sat-nav regularly which means some key information – such as speed limits – can be out of date.

The report says drivers must ‘sharpen up on laws of the road and update sat-navs’.

It concludes: ’An over-reliance on satnavs and smartphones is causing motorists to drive dangerously on Britain’s roads.’

New rules introduced last month state that drivers must keep all handheld devices in secure holders and out of the driver’s view.

To get to destination 95%

Advising of road legal speed limit 56%

Warning of an approaching speed camera 55%

Warning of traffic jams/congestion 55%

Warning of impending road work 53%

Alerting if exceeded the egal speed limit 50%

Source: uSwitch research April 2017  

But one in six (16per cent) of drivers admitted to keeping their devices behind the steering wheel, on the passenger seat or even next to the gear stick, potentially risking a heavy fine.

The majority (56per cent) of drivers believe that more signs would help them keep to the legal speed limits.

But regulatory changes introduced last year which give local authorities more discretion on how many speed limit signs are needed mean there are likely to be fewer on British roads, says the report.

Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, said: ‘We are officially a nation of satnav junkies, but our addiction to technology is causing us to drive dangerously and risk large fines. While satnavs and smartphones are an incredibly useful tool for motorists, it is important to remember they are never a complete substitute for knowing the rules of the road.

Tougher penalties have already been introduced around handheld device usage that could mean newer drivers losing their licence after a first offence and for all drivers the penalties have increased. And drivers will be hit even harder for speeding when the new, heavier, fines come into effect next week.’

Last week the Government announced that L-Test candidates will have to use sat-nav as part of the biggest shake-up of the driving test in more than 20 years.

Instead of reading road signs they will be expected to follow directions from a device on the dashboard to demonstrate their ability at ‘independent’ driving.

But critics warned it could be a safety risk as it could increase drivers’ dependence on their sat-navs.

Studies have found that drivers ‘switch off’ parts of their brain when the devices are on.

In 2015 Darren Longden, 37, was killed while sitting in traffic after a lorry driver who was fiddling with his sat-nav crashed into his car.

Motorists have also been directed by satnavs into fields, while lorries have been stuck after being sent down village lanes.   

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