Would you be lost without your SatNav?

Despite recently being tempted to hurl my SatNav out of the window after it rudely directed me down ‘Dumb Woman’s Lane’ as I drove to a friend’s house in Sussex (I kid you not) I am usually, quite literally, lost without it.


Gone are the days when you’d have to pull over and fumble for hours just to find the right page of the map – now all you have to do is tap the postcode into your SatNav before setting off and that soothing voice can direct you to wherever you’re going. Not only can they tell you where to go, but SatNavs can also alert you to traffic jams, provide routes that avoid motorways, and even tell you when you’re about to go past a speed camera (although if you’re planning on driving abroad this summer remember that it’s illegal to use a SatNav to detect fixed cameras in every European country except the UK and Hungary). It’s hardly surprising then that recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of SatNavs. Between 2004 and 2010 the number of SatNavs in cars in the UK grew by 7.5 million to around 14 million, and large numbers of people now use their smartphones to help them get from A to B. Worldwide, there are expected to be more than 400 million SatNav users by 2015. However, although they have proved a godsend for millions of motorists, it’s worth remembering that SatNavs are far from infallible. In fact, there’s a whole raft of horror stories which could make you think twice about relying on them to get you to your destination. Only last month, pensioners Bob and Pat Banks took a wrong turn at the end of their 270-mile journey from Leeds to Plymouth to catch a ferry to Santander in Spain, and instead found themselves on the Torpoint commuter ferry to Cornwall. Luckily for them, they were able to get back to Plymouth in time to catch the right boat. One unlucky woman ended up having to be dragged from her £96,000 Mercedes SL500 after her SatNav directed her down a farmyard track and across a ford, only for the car to be swept away down the river, while another was directed across a railway track and her car was hit by a train. Fortunately, she escaped shaken but unscathed. Lorries frequently find themselves coming unstuck thanks to SatNavs - or perhaps that should be stuck – as they are guided down tiny country roads which they have no hope of fitting through. One unfortunate Slovenian lorry driver had to have his lorry lifted out by a crane after getting wedged down a lane in the village of Mereworth near Maidstone on the way from Dover to Wales. But perhaps my favourite SatNav horror story happened earlier this year to Belgian woman Sabine Moreau, 67, who intended to drive 38 miles from her home town of Solre-sur-Sambre to Brussels station to collect a friend, but two days later ended up 900 miles away in Zagreb, Croatia. That’s some detour (and some wait for her friend). So even though you might think your SatNav won’t ever lead you astray, it’s just as well to pay attention to where you’re going, just in case something does go wrong. After all, switching on the SatNav doesn’t mean switching off your common sense, so next time I head off on a long journey I think I’ll take a look at a map first, just in case.

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