Setting off to uncharted territories meant drivers had to rely on the cumbersome paper map sprawled across the dashboard or the passenger seat.
Those were simpler, albeit trickier times, where a co-pilot read aloud the next turn, or, for the solo driver, the multitasking of map-reading while behind the wheel was a necessary evil – a habit not exactly given the thumbs up by the Highway Code!
- Driving with a Satellite Navigation System
- Before you start driving
- While you’re on the road
- Once you’ve stopped
In today’s tech-savvy world, the once-essential road atlas has taken a back seat to the marvel of modern navigation: the satellite navigation system or sat nav. If you’re staring at this gadget with slight apprehension, pondering over its buttons and features, worry not. The leap from paper maps to digital navigation is less of a chasm and more of a small step once you know how.
Whether you’re a driver getting the hang of the roads or a veteran motorist dipping your toes into the digital world of navigation, there’s no need to fret. Let’s dive into Rated Driving’s essential guide to mastering your sat nav.
Driving with a Satellite Navigation System
Navigating the roads with the aid of a sat nav can be a game-changer, especially when venturing into unknown territory or trying to dodge traffic jams. Despite their numerous benefits, these handy devices can present a few challenges, particularly for those new to their use.
For instance, one common concern is the risk of being distracted by the sat nav screen. Learning to glance at the map without losing focus on the road is an essential skill, akin to checking your rear-view mirror – quick, but frequent enough to keep you informed.
Moreover, getting the hang of interpreting spoken directions without letting them disrupt your concentration is another hurdle. With all the beeps, prompts, and updates, a sat nav can sometimes feel like an overly chatty co-driver.
Yet, we all understand the importance of keeping distractions to a minimum while driving. The risks of not doing so are not just to yourself but to every other road user. That’s why it’s critical to become adept at using your sat nav in a way that complements your driving, rather than compromises it.
To stay on the safe side, it’s worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with your sat nav before you set off. Practise inputting destinations, adjusting settings, and understanding the display while stationary.
Remember, the aim is to enhance your driving experience, not to add complexity to it. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be a sat nav pro, ready to take on new journeys with confidence and safety.
Before you start driving
Ensuring your sat nav is properly positioned is more than just a tick-box exercise; it’s about safety and legal compliance. You can’t just pop the sat nav on the dash willy-nilly.
If your car isn’t equipped with an integrated system, you’ll need to secure it using a dashboard holder, mat, or a windscreen mount. For those using a smartphone, it’s essential to have it nestled in a sturdy cradle or fixed safely elsewhere.
The golden rule? Your sat nav must never obscure your view of the road. If it does, you’re not just compromising safety – you’re also risking legal penalties. As stated on GOV.UK, a blocked view can result in 3 penalty points and, in more severe cases, you could be taken to court, face a driving ban, or be fined up to £1,000 – or £2,500 for larger vehicle drivers.
To avoid these risks, while seated in your driver’s seat, experiment with the position of your sat nav. It should be easy to glance at without significantly diverting your attention from the road. It’s a bad idea to put it somewhere that requires gymnastic effort to see or operate.
Input Your Route Carefully
The unpredictability of the road requires your undivided attention. From a suddenly appearing cyclist to a jaywalking pedestrian, distractions are rife, which is why you should never attempt to programme your sat nav while driving.
Always input your route before you even turn the key in the ignition. Patience is key here; a rushed input could mean mid-journey corrections, and that’s a definite no-go. Think about it: if fiddling with the radio is tricky when driving, then punching in a postcode on your sat nav is doubly difficult.
Turn Up the Volume
As you become more experienced with your sat nav, switching your gaze from the device to the road will become second nature. But if you’re a sat nav newbie, it’s better to focus primarily on the road and let the audio instructions guide you.
Hence, it’s important to adjust the volume before you start your journey. Make sure the voice instructions cut through clearly, so there’s no need to split your concentration between the visuals and the audio. Until you’re completely at ease with the sat nav’s presence, it might be wise to skip the radio or music – anything that might compete with those all-important navigational cues.
While you’re on the road
Travelling along an unknown road might tempt you to glue your eyes to the sat nav, but this is a no-go. Remember, this tech is there to assist, not to command your attention. While it may seem excessive, the reality is stark: distractions lead to accidents, and your sat nav can be just that if not managed correctly.
Should the police notice you’re driving erratically because you’re too focused on the sat nav, they have grounds to stop you. The key is to prioritise the audio prompts over the visual display, keeping your gaze predominantly on the road. Use the sat nav as you would your mirrors – for brief, informative glances.
Exercise Common Sense
Sat navs can sometimes be mistaken – they’re wonderful, but not infallible. Maps may not always be up to date, and bugs can occur. It’s your job to stay alert and use your judgment. If your device is telling you to drive on despite clear road signs indicating otherwise, trust the signs. You wouldn’t want to be the tale-teller who made a turn into a field, following the sat nav blindly.
Pull Over to Adjust
Realised you’ve made a wrong turn or facing technical glitches with your sat nav? Never attempt a fix while on the move. It’s illegal and unsafe to interact with your sat nav while driving – and yes, this holds even when you’re stationary at a red light or stuck in traffic.
If an adjustment is necessary, find a safe spot to pull over. On faster roads like motorways, wait until you can exit safely or find a service area. Remember, the hard shoulder is only for emergencies, not for recalibrating your route.
Don’t Over-rely on Technology
Sat navs are incredibly helpful, but an over-reliance on them can dull your navigation skills. Make sure you can still follow traditional road signs – technology can fail, and if your sat nav dies, you don’t want to be left directionless. It’s good practice to occasionally navigate the old-fashioned way to keep your skills sharp.
Be equally cautious about trusting your sat nav for speed limits or your vehicle’s speed. Always check the speed limit with road signs and trust your car’s speedometer over the sat nav to avoid speeding inadvertently.
Practice Is Key
Mastering the use of a sat nav is much like any driving skill – it takes practice. Recall the early days of learning to drive; the struggles with clutch control or judging roundabouts.
With time, those challenges became second nature. It’s the same with your sat nav – the more you use it, the more seamless it will become as part of your driving routine. Keep at it, and you’ll soon wonder how you ever managed without it.
Once you’ve stopped
Remove Your Sat Nav
Leaving your sat nav in the car might seem like a handy shortcut, especially when you’re dashing in and out on errands. It’s one less thing to remember, right?
But hold on – this convenience could cost you dearly. A sat nav on display is like a beacon for thieves, tempting them with an easy target. And if they smash and grab, who knows what else they might take along with it?
The solution is simple: take your sat nav with you. Not only does this protect your device, but it also keeps any other treasures you’ve got hidden from prying eyes. For added peace of mind, check out our essential tips on keeping your car safe from theft.
Charge Your Sat Nav
There’s nothing quite like the sinking feeling when you’re en route to somewhere new, and your sat nav decides it’s time for a nap – because, oops, you forgot to charge it! Especially if you’re venturing into the countryside where road signs are as scarce as city traffic is dense.
Make it a habit – like brushing your teeth – to check your sat nav’s battery life regularly. If it’s part of your daily kit, then a weekly charge should keep it in top-notch condition.
Keep Your Sat Nav Updated
Now, nobody’s a fan of the dreaded ‘update’ pop-up. It’s like an uninvited guest that won’t leave. But when it comes to your sat nav, those updates are your best friend. Roads change, roundabouts pop up, speed limits fluctuate – your sat nav has to keep up with the times, or you could find yourself turning into a ghost estate.
Most sat navs will give themselves a brain boost automatically when they hit a Wi-Fi spot. Others might need a nudge in the right direction from you via their menus. Not sure which camp your device falls into? Grab the user manual or take a quick trip to the World Wide Web – it’ll set you straight.