Satnav: Great driving tool – but know how to use it

  • Set it – then and leave  it to do its job
  • If you must amend the route, stop the car
  • A satnav can err – be aware of you route

SET YOUR ROUTE BEFORE YOU LEAVE: Mobile satellite navigation is hazardous to use once you are on the road. Take these tips from and expert...

SATELLITE NAVIGATION is a must, particularly in South Africa where, sometimes, socially hazardous areas must be traversed or avoided and in remote regions of our huge country..

Though ‘satnav’ is freely available many vehicle owners do not, willingly or because of lack of education in their use, fail to use this travel companion either safely or correctly.

Richard Gladman, British road-safety organisation RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards and a frequent contributor to Carman’s Corner,  said a 2017 simulator study investigating driving distractions found satnav programming had a huge negative effect on driving standards.


So, here are some tips on using a satnav – and expert users should not drift off at this point because there is always something you might not know…

The most important safety feature is program your journey/destination before you set off. Looking at your satnav to make changes en-route is a serious and dangerous distraction. Just pull over when it is safe to do so and spend a few minutes to make the required alteration – you’ll not only safe time in the long run but also, possibly, your and your family’s lives.

Get to know your system: being able to mute or activate voice commands without looking at the screen will be useful. Features such as live traffic updates and road-works warnings will help in planning your arrival time. A modern system will offer alternative routes if time savings are possible.


Ask for a demo of the satnav’s features if you’re buying a standalone unit or collecting a new car with satnav built-in satnav . It can be frustrating trying to “educate” a different system to your way of working

If you’re using your phone for navigation make sure it is securely mounted and programmed before departure. Being a mobile, notifications, message alerts and calls can pop up. Do not be tempted to respond or touch it – sort it when you take a driving break of complete your journey.

Don’t attract a thief. Remember to put the mobile unit in the glove box and wipe the tell-tale suction mark off the windscreen.


Gladman again: “Satellite navigation can be a fantastic tool but a cautionary tale: it’s a good idea to have an idea where you are going. Don’t be scared to glance at the map as you travel – even a good satnav can make a mistake!”

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