Dispelling the myths about sat navs

Map reading is seen by some as a true test of intelligence. It’s the ability to determine where you’re going without anything more than a rough diagram sketched onto the back of an envelope and an innate sense of direction.

Some people still refuse to budge from using an A-Z…

It’s cherished and boasted about by those who have it, but for the rest of us there are sat navs. Forget all those hours spent heading in the wrong direction, taking a guess at which exit to take at roundabouts… Sat navs tell us where to go in a nice, polite and calm fashion.

Yet despite all the obvious benefits of sat navs, there are still naysayers who perpetuate myths about our guardian angels of the road.

Myth 1: Sat navs are just another gadget clogging up our lives, and our dashboards! By the time you’ve keyed in the full address and got it pointing in the right direction, you may as well have just got out your A-Z and planned the route properly. That way you’ll learn it once and know it for the rest of your life.

Truth: If you know the postcode of where you want to go then you can tap it in to your sat nav and have your directions mapped out in seconds. I don’t know how quick you are with the A-Z, but it won’t be able to plot you a new route while you’re driving if you take a wrong turn or have to work your way around a closed road. You can still learn a route by following your sat nav as long as you pay attention.

Myth 2: Sat navs just can’t adapt to our changing roads. A new one way system flummoxes them and usually leaves you embarrassingly reversing out of the way of oncoming traffic, or getting stuck on a city’s ring road for three-quarters of an hour! You’re best off following signs and forgetting what that annoying little voice tells you.

Truth: Complete nonsense! Sat nav companies are constantly updating their road maps, so if you have the internet you can easily keep yours updated. A sat nav understands the quirks of a ring road and displaying the distance to a turning gives you more of a chance to catch it, rather than speeding past. Of course you should continue to obey road signs, but what’s wrong with getting a little extra help?

Myth 3: Asking your friends what route they take is the best way to avoid the traffic. These sat nav devices might think they know it all, but they’ve no clue when school run mums (otherwise known as ‘scrums’) come out in their droves or when the Saturday shopping rush causes gridlock. You can use your common sense to skirt around these areas, but a sat nav will just direct you straight into the traffic jam.

Truth: Do you have a panel of your mates sitting in the back seat advising you at all times? Didn’t think so. Many sat navs receive live traffic reports and will then put you on a different route to avoid the delays as much as possible. So unless you’re clairvoyant, using a sat nav is the best way to avoid the jams.

Myth 4: Sat navs direct you from point to point, but you miss out on so much by not learning the landmarks along your route. What about the museums that you didn’t realise were there that you could pop into the next time you pass, or the parks on the outskirts of town that are so lovely to walk in? It’s like driving with blinkers on!

Truth: You still drive past museums and cathedrals, so you can remember where they are and then program the route into your sat nav for when you want to go. Most sat navs have a list of local places of interest, allowing you to work out if you’re near anything that you’d like to see.

Where do you stand on the sat nav debate – are they an essential resource for drivers or just another nuisance on the road? Comment below…