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Satnav safety tips

10 tips to find your way

More than half of AA Members with a satnav have said that it is the best device they've ever had in their car but 22% admit that the satnav sometimes distracts them and almost one in three (30%) said their satnav had taken them to a place they didn't want to go.*

Younger drivers (18–24) are much more likely to have a satnav – over half (52%) of the younger age group have a satnav compared to just 28% of the over 65s.

Overall only 14% trust the satnav not to get them lost so it's no surprise that two thirds always carry a road atlas in their car on unfamiliar journeys.

Whatever your age it's important that you understand the limitations of a satnav system so that you can get the best out of it without getting into trouble.


  1. You're driving, not the satnav
    You can't blame the satnav if you commit an offence or have an accident. It's your fault.

  2. Trust your eyes not the satnav
    People have been marooned in fords, driven into rivers and down railways because their satnav told them to. If the road looks wrong, don't take it.

  3. You know what you're driving, the satnav probably doesn't
    If you have a large vehicle or a caravan, you can't be sure that a road is suitable just because the satnav tells you to go down it. Watch for signs.

  4. Watch the road not the satnav
    A satnav can give all sorts of information about where you are going, much of which you don't need.

  5. Don't block your view of the road
    The satnav should be in your line of sight. You don't want to have to look down or turn your head a long way, but it should not block your view of the road. Put it where it won't injure anyone in an accident.

  6. Don't try to programme the satnav while driving
    Programming on the move will take one hand from the wheel, two eyes from the road and a brain from driving. Always pull over before adjusting settings.

  7. Use all of the features
    On a complicated, busy roundabout, it is unwise to take your eyes off the road to look at the satnav, and much better to receive spoken instructions.

  8. Check the route is practical before you go
    Is the satnav taking you to the right Farnborough? Hampshire, Warwickshire or Kent? If you put in the wrong destination, it will take you to the wrong destination. Does the route look right?

  9. Update the satnav regularly
    It needs to know about new roads, new traffic systems and generally keep itself up to date.

  10. Thieves like satnavs too
    If it's detachable, always take it out when you leave the car. Mounts or suction cap marks also attract thieves as they know that drivers who remove the satnav from the window tend to leave it in the car.

(Page updated 5 December 2011)


* AA-Populus survey.