GIS GPS Thoughts

Satnav savvy ?

I got thinking last week about the actual impact of GPS navigation systems on peoples driving habits after reports of satnavs sending people through villages as short cuts. I’m not sure this is actually the case, why I’m uncertain was an experience on a Friday evening a few weeks previously…

I travel north up the M3 almost every night, and just after the Farnborough junction hit the end of a 10-15 mile tailback. Using the AA trafficwatch service on my mobile I discovered the cause of the queue was an accident at the M25 junction a few hours earlier which had involved a truck carrying livestock !! visions of cows and sheep on the motorway – the end result was the motorway was completely closed.

As I sat in the traffic in the darkness I could not but help to notice than at least 10% of the cars had the glow of a GPS navigation system on their dashboards, if you regularly drive in the UK at night you will no doubt have become aware of the rapid growth of satnavs over the past six months or so – well done tom-tom !!!

So as I switched my satnav to detour mode, to get me off the motorway at the next junction, I had the expectation I would be joined by many others making our ways through the A-Roads of Surrey. However when I came off the motorway and followed the route shown in the map below I was almost the only car on the road, it seemed many where happy to sit and wait on the motorway ?

Detour map

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

With some smugness I rejoined the now empty M3 at the M25 Junction and drove home… so my question is, just how confident are people in using satnav’s to go “off route” ?

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

14 replies on “Satnav savvy ?”

Ed, just read your piece and it reminded me that the same thing happened to me on the way back from Birmingham. When I squeezed my way off the M40 and took to the wilds, I expected to be accompanied by lots of others, but I was totally alone.
By the way, recent reports have suggested that satnav users spend too much time looking at the maps on the small screen. Me, I’m either brave or foolish. I just listen to the dulcet tones of the “instructress”. Works for me!

Hi Ray,

Good to hear from you..

I agree listening to the lady giving instructions works for me – if you can you should trying switching the language to Dutch, don’t understand what she says… but I like the way she says it 🙂


I think people put too much trust in the devices, remember its there to aid you, Not to take over. If you doubt what is says, use your common sense, the tomtom will always re-calculate the route.
in the meantime; if you have a tomtom You can download free tomtom voices at:
you can also download different map colors.
and splash screens

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