Am I the only driver without a satnav?

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 22nd January 2013

I seem to be one of the few people who doesn’t have a satnav in their car. I still rely on an ancient AA atlas that cost £1.99 in a garage years ago. The Oxford page has got a massive rip through it, but apart from that the map is still doing sterling service and I rarely get lost.

But now it appears that I’m one of a dying breed. A survey by budget NetVoucherCodes has found that the UK’s map-reading skills are fading fast. Sixty-nine per cent of women and 59 per cent of men say they’d be lost without a satnav, while four out of five 18 to 30 year olds couldn’t manage without one.

I’m mystified by the popularity of satnavs. For a start I don’t want to be bossed about by an annoying voice when I’m driving – and quite apart from that, satnavs aren’t all that they are cracked up to be. Lorries are always getting stuck in tight lanes, while car drivers have ended up on railway lines, cliff edges and in Richmond, North Yorkshire, rather than Richmond upon Thames. And look at what happened to Sabine Moreau, a 67-year-old Belgian woman who set off on a trip to Brussels earlier this month to pick up a friend from the station. The journey should have been 38 miles but thanks to her satnav she took a wrong turn and ended up 900 miles away in Zagreb, Croatia. Stick to a map next time, Sabine, and you’ll be fine.

PS. Don’t worry, these two tube trains haven’t gone AWOL after relying too heavily on their satnavs. I passed them in Shoreditch the other day and couldn’t resist taking a picture. They are actually recycled Jubilee Line trains (there are four altogether) and they’ve cleverly been converted into offices and studios high above Great Eastern Street.

10 comments so far

  • Could not agree with you more Emma…I detest satnavs! The voices are irritating and condescending and routes selected often defy logic. It is a cause of constant argument whenever we are in husbands car. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type…grrrrr!

  • I had a bad satnav experience a few years ago when I selected the wrong postcode and managed to drive to my brother’s skatepark instead of a friend’s birthday party (in completely the opposite direction)! I was very late!
    These days I don’t drive as I live in a city but I’m completely reliant on Google Maps on my phone – I don’t think I’d ever get anywhere without it!

  • Did you really do that? The people at the skatepark must have been a bit surprised. And it’s interesting about Google Maps – I find it quite hard to use when I’m on foot, let alone in a car!

  • Arrgh don’t start me on sat-navs! Ours has no idea of all the new roads in our area – and insists we’re driving across fields but best (or worst) was the instruction to perform a U-turn on a motorway!

  • No, rest assured, Emma, you’re not the only person without a satnav. We don’t have one, but rely on road maps or printouts from Google Maps because we tend to plan our journey. I find satnavs both irritating and unintentionally funny, and on the whole rather distracting.

  • Mary, driving across fields sounds terrible – very bumpy and very stressful! And being instructed to do a U-turn on a motorway completely proves my doubts about satnavs!

  • Hi Henri. I’m really glad I wrote this post. I thought that EVERYONE else had a satnav, so I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m not the only one who relies on road maps! You and me both.

  • My car has a built in satnav, but I rarely use it, after a bad experience trying to navigate through France. The journey took 3 hours longer because I trusted the satnav over my map.
    Now I only use my road atlas, or occasionally the route finder on the AA website.

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