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Millions of drivers are sat-nav racing, says Daily Mail

Monday 1st August 2011

According to the Daily Mail a ‘potentially deadly new craze’ called ‘sat-nav racing’ is sweeping Britain’s roads.

The aim of the game, says the Daily Mail, is to beat the car’s GPS system by arriving at a destination faster than its estimated time of arrival.

The Daily Mail cites a survey carried out by Sainsbury’s car insurance, which reveals:

  • 7.2 million motorists - a fifth of all drivers - have admitted to sat-nav racing.
  • 3.6 million motorists admitted to breaking the speed limit when racing against their GPS in the last 12 months.
  • 144,000 sat-nav racers admit to having being involved in a collision with another vehicle or hitting a parked car.
  •  216,000 have hit the kerb while driving erratically and dangerously.
  • 161,000 drivers have flashed their lights or gesticulated at other drivers to try to get them to speed up so they could race to their destination.

Ben Tyte, head of car insurance with Sainsbury's Finance, said: “Our research shows a worrying trend of drivers racing against the projected arrival time set by their GPS systems.

“Used correctly GPS units are a fantastic invention that help drivers navigate effectively and concentrate on the road far more than when using maps or printed directions.

“However, we are encouraging drivers using this new driving technology to have the safety of any passengers, other road users and pedestrians at the forefront of their minds and not be tempted to become GPS racers.”

Philip Gomm of the RAC Foundation said: “Drivers should treat their sat-navs as guides, not gospel. We all know that real life gets in the way of the best planned journeys, and motorists need to leave enough leeway for unforeseen circumstances, rather than being intent on racing the clock. Breaking the law to try and beat a machine is not acceptable.”

Click here to read the full Daily Mail report.

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Alan, where's the evidence of your "road to disaster"?

Every day around 8 people die on our roads and, on average, 7 of them did NOT involve speeding.

Every day, millions upon millions of people exceed speed limits without crashing and without endangering anyone else.

These people who speed safely include not just the public, but also government ministers who are in charge of overall speeding policies, local Cllrs who set local speed limits and spend our money on speed cameras, bosses of speed camera companies, police officers of all ranks (including your RSO) right up to the top officers in the country, all of whom say speeding is dangerous yet demonstrate by their actions that they know it isn't.

These people are not mindless morons with a total disregard for the lives of others, they are all of us.

This suggests that safety only requires "appropriate speed" and, if so, the speed limit is irrelevent.

And, as you point out, "some drivers organisations" seem to be aware of this.

Please note: I am NOT advocating or condoning any particular behaviours of UK road users, simply observing the evidence.
Dave Finney - Slough

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Dave,
You are quite correct regarding an appropriate speed within the speed limit and I failed to be clear on that but wrongly took it as a given. Unless by appropriate speed you mean a speed that is in excess of the limit but viewed by the individual driver to be appropriate, as some drivers organisations seem to favour. If that is what you mean then thereby is the road to disaster.
Best wishes
Alan
Alan Hale South Gloucestershire Road Safety Team.

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No one has mentioned committing Criminal Offences – Once again it seems OK for mindless morons to use vehicles to Endanger the lives of men, women, young people and children, but I wonder would these morons would do if their Child was mowed down by a sat-nav racer??

This is intentional, premeditated criminal behaviour and is with a total Disregard for the lives of other road users.

Judith, Norfolk
Judith, Norfolk

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Alan, I find your comments far more worrying than Pennys.

The idea that there should not be a problem so long as a driver stays within the speed limit whilst listening to their sat-nav is actually quite dangerous. What about driving "at the appropriate speed"? If drivers do that then the speed limit is irrelevant as far as safety is concerned.

But you appear to be correct in that there may be many (most?) safe drivers working for organisations that prosecute people who exceed speed limits and that are involved in the huge publicity campaigns trying to convince the public that speed cameras make our roads safer, who themselves safely exceed those speed limits.

The most prominent example of this might be the top police officer in the country, Meredydd Hughes, who seems to have considered it perfectly safe for him to drive at 90mph in a 60, whilst at the same time calling for more speed cameras to catch everyone else.

It's all very well for officials to sit at a table and agree road safety policies,
But it's quite a different picture in reality when we (and those officials) use the roads,
And quite a different picture again when road safety figures are independently analysed.
Dave Finney - Slough

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It is worrying to read Penny Thorpes comment above. What guidance does one need. SatNavs are designed for navigation and the speedometer is designed to register your speed. As long as you listen to the directions given and follow them and do that within the legal limit for the road and that is where the speedo comes into play then there should not be a problem.

Regarding the other communication tool the mobile phone well that should never be used in the vehicle unless stationery and that is the message we in the RS business should be giving.

As RSOs we have to walk the talk and I have before now left a venue following another RSO, not one of mine, and when I reached 30 mph the speed limit for the road the other RSO left me standing. I caught up again at traffic lights and the same thing happened again on moving off!

All but two of my team have passed the IAM advanced test and perhaps all RSOs should consider that as a way forward.
Alan Hale - South Gloucestershire Council Road Safety Team

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I would love to see the research behind this, sample sizes etc.

The funny thing is that the system I use is adaptive - so if you're stuck in traffic, it extends the time, and if you're making progress on a clear road, it decreases the time.

It's impossible to game the system!
Neil Hopkins, Sussex

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Kevin - we've made it very clear that this story has come from the Daily Mail. We simply report the news and allow people to come to their own conclusions and make comments, which makes for healthy debate!
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

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I confess, I have done this when running late - but not involving excessive speed, I am an RSO after all. It does highlight the need for guidance on correct/safe use of sat nav and other in-car telecommunications equipment.
Penny Thorpe, Cwmbran

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One expects a bit of hyperbole from the tabloid press... but this is a website that should know better. Clearly Sainsburys didn't interview 7.2 million drivers... their survey size was likely quite small, and extrapolating figures in this way is clearly misleading, if not downright dangerously deceptive.
Kevin Williams, Kent

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Is this just a scare story?

1st of all, is it happening?

If this is a recent phenomenon of much higher speeds by a significant proportion of drivers ("a fifth of all drivers"), we should see the evidence of this in the average free-flow speeds. Yet speeds are remaining constant or slightly reducing.

2nd, is it dangerous?

If "a fifth of all drivers" were not only "exceeding the speed limit", but were doing so dangerously, then we should see deaths rising. But they are not, deaths are falling substantially.

And the number of deaths that involved "exceeding the speed limit" should be rising. But they are not, deaths involving speeding vehicles are also falling (to 2009, 2010 figures not out yet).

This is quite aside from the fact that the story is just not credable.

How did they manage to question the "3.6 million motorists"? That's one heck of a survey team!

And if "a fifth of all drivers" who were sat-nav racing and speeding only had "144,000" crashes, that sounds like fewer crashes per driver than all the other drivers who were plodding along within the speed limit!

This needs some solid research before jumping to conclusions, although this is road safety!
Dave Finney - Slough

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