Satellite Navigation Systems

A satellite navigation system, or ‘sat nav’ as it is more commonly known, is a navigational device which is dependent upon geographical information received from satellites. In recent years, UK and global motorists have become dependent upon these navigational systems to direct them to their chosen destinations.

Currently in the UK, over 14 million drivers frequently utilise sat-nav systems in their cars. This accounts for half of the total British driving population. Although it is legal to use these sat-nav systems whilst driving, there are several officials who believe that they are distracting and that they are responsible for causing automotive accidents.

Sat Nav Statistics

  • Over 50% of AA members who own a sat nav system believe that it is the best automotive device they have ever owned. However, 22% of AA members concede that their sat-nav systems can be distracting. Moreover, 30% of AA members have stated that their sat-nav system has directed them to an incorrect destination.
  • According to research by the AA, younger drivers between the age of 18 and 24 are more likely to own a sat-nav than older drivers. 52% of this younger age group own a sat-nav in comparison to 28% of drivers over the age of 65.
  • Only 14% of AA members trust their sat nav system to direct them to their intended destination. As a result, two thirds of AA members carry a road atlas on unfamiliar car journeys.
  • Sat-nav systems have been blamed for approximately 300,000 automotive accidents in the UK. Around 1.5 million drivers admitted to performing sudden automotive manoeuvres because they were following their sat-nav system’s directions.
  • 5 million motorists stated that they had driven the wrong way down a one-way street as a direct result of the direction given by their sat-nav system.
  • A poll of 2,000 motorists revealed that 1 in 5 people blamed their sat-nav system for distracting them whilst driving, making them hesitate on a busy road and lose track of the traffic. 1 in 50 of the motorists polled stated that their sat-nav system had caused, or almost caused, an automotive accident.


Despite their wealth of navigational benefits, sat-nav systems can be distracting devices for motorists. Consequently, in order to reduce your risk of being involved in a road traffic incident, listed below are a series of recommended driving practices whilst using a sat-nav system:

  • Always keep your eyes on the road. Select the audio instructions on your sat-nav so that you remain alert at all times rather than staring at your sat-nav screen.
  • Remember that the sat-nav is only a guide; you are still responsible for your own driving actions. If a road sign says that a street is one way, or if you need to change direction, do not blindly follow the sat-nav’s directions. Only follow the route if it is safe to do so; you can always recalibrate your sat-nav at a later stage and reach your destination safely without incident.
  • If your sat-nav is directing you towards a road or route which looks unsafe, use your best judgement. Instead of driving down a dangerous route, recalibrate your sat-nav to a different route rather than driving into an unsafe obstacle.
  • Look out for road signs as well as following your sat-nav. Your sat-nav may direct you down a road which is too narrow for your vehicle. However, if you are conscious of road signs, you can avoid these inconveniences.
  • Make sure that your sat-nav is in your line of sight; it should never block your view of the road.
  • Always program your sat-nav route before driving. If you need to adjust settings en route, pull over at a safe spot so that you are not recalibrating whilst driving.
  • Update your sat-nav regularly to ensure all of the routes it tells you are up to date.
  • Check that your route is practical before departing. If your logic is telling you the route is too long or too complicated, recalibrate until you find your ideal route.
  • Take your sat-nav system with you when you leave your car. Sat-navs are expensive devices and you place your car and its contents at risk of theft if your sat-nav is visible through your vehicle’s windows.