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6 January 2012
Much need first satnav summit to tighten up accuracy of electronic road mapping
The Government’s much-needed first ‘Satnav’ summit to tighten up the accuracy of electronic road mapping, threatens to collide with new local authority powers to designate roads as they see fit, warns the AA.
Localised re-prioritisation of important routes and a mismatch of road types going from one county to another will be confusing for satnav mapping and drivers who rely on it – and it won’t be their fault.
“With the potential for a significant shake-up of road designation as each county changes routes according to local priorities, a dislocated network and on-going changes could create a nightmare for satnav firms trying to get their mapping right. The cost of downloading update after update means that most drivers won’t be up to speed on routes that highway authorities want them to use,” says Edmund King, the AA’s President.
Some local authorities are nervous about implementing the new powers to designate their own routes, because they don’t know if their primary routes will link with what neighbouring areas are doing.
We do hear satnav horror stories with headlines such as 'Sat-Nav directed me into path of train','Satnav’s latest short cut..through a cottage' or 'Satnav got truck stuck in tunnel'.
However, these are few and far between. If a satnav is used in conjunction with a good atlas and common sense, then they can enhance safety and reduce journey times.
But common sense is important, for instance someone thought she was being taken to a Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge by taxi but ended up 230 miles away in rural village of Stamford Bridge near York.
Like all things in life we need to embrace technology but not lose our common sense. Hence a quick glance at a map prior to your journey will give you a good indication of your right direction. Following a dirt track because the sat nav says turn left is plainly stupid.
The cost of downloading update after update means that most drivers won’t be up to speed on routes that highway authorities want them to use
Edmund King, AA president
Beware because sat navs can get you into trouble with the law. A driver, relying on satnav equipment rather than reading traffic signs informing him there was a 3 tonne weight restriction ahead, has been prosecuted by North Avon Magistrates.
They can also keep you out of trouble with the law by reminding you of the speed limit or the presence of cameras.
Winchester City Council has become the first in the UK to put up 'Do not follow sat-nav' signs near a road often used as a cut-through. Apparently, drivers follow GPS instructions to turn into the shortcut, but get stuck part way down the lane when the road narrows.
Despite these concerns, the AA welcomes the summit as an opportunity for a popular everyday technology to become as efficient as possible in getting drivers from A to B, cutting journey times and congestion, saving fuel and reducing CO2.
The need to get it right is illustrated by an AA / Populus survey of 16,850 AA members in June 2011. It also shows how many people still rely on an atlas but don’t always have the latest edition.
The survey found:
(2 February 2012)