Racing the satnav

Majority of younger drivers try to beat estimated journey time

23 September 2011

Majority of younger drivers try to beat estimated journey time

Majority of younger drivers try to beat estimated journey time

A majority (55%) of younger drivers with a satnav try to race their satnav’s estimated journey time, latest AA Populus research reveals.  Overall, more than a quarter of AA members with a device try to beat the technology.

The AA/Populus research (17-24 August, 11,361 respondents) shows that nearly three-quarters of 18-24 year olds have a satnav, and of those with a satnav 55% of them say that there are occasions when they put estimated journey times to the test.  The lure of out-smarting the technology also persists among the 60% of 25-34 year olds who own a satnav with more than one third saying that they put the satnav’s times to the test.

Drivers were asked “Are there times when you deliberately try to drive somewhere faster than the time suggested by your satnav?”

For some drivers ‘beat the satnav’ has become a potentially deadly game. ‘Beat the clock’ should stay in the realms of the game show rather than the highway

Edmund King, AA president

Younger drivers are more likely to own a satnav and ownership declines with age.  However satnav ownership remains above 50% even for drivers aged 65 years or more, although the urge to race the estimated time drops to 15% in late middle age and reaches 7% among pensioners.  Drivers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the West Country are least likely to own a satnav.

Curiously, another AA/Populus survey 13-20 May this year (11,548 respondents) found that 51% of AA members will allow an extra hour in their journey time for trips of 100 miles or more. Younger drivers aged 18-24 years were slightly more assiduous at 52%.

“Human versus machine is evidently a challenge most younger drivers cannot resist, although common sense tells them that getting a clear run is so unlikely on today’s UK roads that they build spare time into their journeys.  For some drivers ‘beat the satnav’ has become a potentially deadly game. ‘Beat the clock’ should stay in the realms of the game show rather than the highway,” says Edmund King, AA President.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the area of the country with the cheapest fuel, Yorkshire and Humberside, has the highest percentage of satnav racers (18% of all drivers) – and the highest proportion of satnav owners (58%).  AA members in Scotland are least likely to challenge the technology at 11%, perhaps due to being jointly the most expensive region for diesel.  They also have the lowest level of satnav ownership.

King adds: “Although Yorkshire/Humberside’s satnav racing habit may be just coincidental, higher fuel bills are certainly the price you pay for trying to out-smart the technology.  Safety of course is the main concern and, between that and higher fuel costs, the technology the smart driver should be looking to beat is the trip computer’s fuel consumption – for which, sticking to the speed limit is the real clincher.”

(30 September 2011)