Sat nav vs Maps

Almost half of young drivers rely on Sat nav alone

Almost half of young drivers rely on Sat nav alone

Almost half of young drivers rely on Sat nav alone

Most motorists are still turning to maps when planning car journeys even in the age of high tech navigation systems. Two thirds of drivers have used a printed map in the last six months.

One third (35%) of respondents to a recent AA-Populus poll of 23,824 drivers claim to use both sat nav and an atlas to plan a route with just 17% relying solely on sat nav. Younger drivers (18-24 year olds) are the group most likely to ignore maps, with 43% depending on their sat navs alone to navigate, while only 9% of over 65 year olds have ditched printed maps altogether.

The AA sat nav V maps fact-file shows:

  • 60% have used an in-car sat nav in the last 6 months
  • 63% have used a printed map in the last 6 months

When planning routes:

  • 35% use a sat nav and printed map. 40% in Eastern England but just 27% in Scotland
  • 19% have used the AA Route planner and print out
  • 17% have used just a sat nav. Rises to 43% of 18-24 yr olds but just 9% of over 65s. 20% In London but just 14% in the SW
  • 11% plan route with a map and take written instructions. Just 5% of 18-24 year olds do this compared to 15% of over 65s
  • 7% use on-line maps
  • 7% use only a printed map
  • 1% never travel far enough to need a map or sat nav

Obsessed with directions

As a nation, the British are obsessed with directions and maps; just ask a group of people for directions and you will likely receive a variety of routes based on personal preferences and shortcut knowledge.

As the country’s road network has developed, so has the technology behind the mapping. We depend on our road network for 86% of passenger journeys and more than 90% of freight including almost everything we buy in the shops or on-line. So knowing the best route is crucial to making these journeys as easy as possible.

Love-hate relationship

Mapping expert and author of Mapping the Roads, Mike Parker says: ‘The story of Britain’s road development is also the story of its political, economic and social history, and the car, more than any other single factor, has shaped our landscape and changed our maps. Many people have a love-hate relationship with our busy, bustling, often congested, roads. Roads might be seen as a necessary evil to get us through the ‘rush hour’ to work but they also give us the freedom to live in different places, to visit friends and relatives, to travel and explore the many wonders that our country has to offer. Without roads and maps our lives would be very different.

The bigger picture

‘Technology has brought us in-car navigation systems to make getting around without a human navigator far easier. However, there are numerous tales of those who rely solely on this technology finding themselves in either completely the wrong location or on inappropriate roads for their vehicles.

With a good map, you can quite literally see the bigger picture, get a sense of the context of the landscape through which you're travelling and hunt down some unexpected gems along the way.

‘The younger generation may be changing the way maps are used but even those using sat navs are still dependent on the mapping behind the devices, so maps and mapping the roads are still vital for the future of road travel.’

Mapping the Roads by Mike Parker (AA Publishing) is available from all leading bookshops priced £25.00 and from the AA shop along with a host of quality maps.

(25 November 2013)

Mike Parker

Mike Parker is author of the bestselling travel narrative, Map Addict, and the follow up Wild Rover, both published by Collins. Mike Parker has had a varied career, which saw him working as a stand-up comedian. He has been widely published and has presented various travel programmes for radio and television, including Radio 4’s ten part series On the Map.  He writes freelance travel pieces for numerous UK papers, including The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Mirror. Mike is available for interview and features.


Need AA Breakdown Cover?

We fix more cars by the roadside than anyone else. Get a quote »

Need AA Breakdown Cover?