A recent investigation by Admiral car insurance found that more than one in 8 drivers
don’t feel confident using a map to get directions, which could mean there are over 5
million motorists unsafely navigating roads across the UK.
The study, which looked at how well motorists would fare if they had to rely on using a
traditional road map to get from A to B revealed that more than 60% of drivers admitted
they haven’t used an old-style road map for directions for a long time and more than
one in 20 drivers (6%) confess they are ‘terrible with maps’, so avoid using them
altogether. Meanwhile, 7% of drivers admit they have NEVER used one.
Of the 25% of drivers who still use a traditional road map all the time, 73% are over the age
of 45, compared with just 12% of drivers under the age of 35.
When it comes to finding their way to a brand new destination, more than half of drivers in
the UK rely on a sat nav, while almost a quarter of drivers say they use a map app on
a mobile phone to find their way. This is in comparison to 15% of those who say they
prefer to use road signs to help them navigate and 8% who rely on their instinct alone to find
With many cities around the UK closing roads and making temporary or permanent changes
to their layout after the Coronavirus lockdown, it’s sensible to check your route before you
head off on a journey.
Relying heavily on their mobile phone’s navigation app could mean motorists are not only
distracted while driving, but they could also be frequently breaking the law.
When asked where they place their phone while driving 14% admitted to leaving it
somewhere unsafe either on the passenger seat, rested but not secured to the
dashboard, or on their lap. Motorists caught touching their phone, even if it is to quickly
alter their route, could be hit with a hefty fine and receive points on their licence.
Reading a map is so last century
When asked to identify traditional map symbols, most drivers struggled and wrongly labelled
the icons that represented popular road features. In total, more than a quarter (29%) of motorists confessed they simply didn’t know
what the roundabout symbol was, and 27% couldn’t recognise the steep hill symbol
on a traditional road map.
This could mean motorists won’t be prepared for potential hazards and upcoming junctions or intersections on the roads and therefore, may not be
able to safely react.
Does Anyone Still Use a Vintage AA Road Map? Not Many
Admiral found the following data nuggets form their survey;
Don’t own a map 28%
Own a map but have never used it and keep it ‘just in case’ 20%
Own a map but can’t remember the last time it was used 17%
Own a map and use it regularly 14%
Own a map and have used it in the last year 14%
Own a map and have used it in the last month 6%
The investigation revealed that more than a quarter (28%) of drivers don’t own a road
map or atlas and a fifth (20%) never use their map, keeping it instead ‘just in case.’
Meanwhile, 17% of drivers who have an atlas or map can’t remember the last time they used
Although the majority of motorists favour digital directions, if they got lost while driving a third
(36%) would return to a traditional road map to find their way back which is more than the
one in 10 who would rely on their phones to get to where they need to be.
Motorists in a fix following sat nav
The investigation revealed one in 20 drivers have ended up in a bus lane, a fifth (21%)
have taken a wrong exit and 17% have got lost whilst driving following a sat nav or phone
app for directions.
Here’s thing though; On average, some 28% of motorists admit they have made a mistake on the road following sat nav directions and the top answer was that 32% said they had taken a wrong turn following the SatNav. Unsurprising, given that many SatNav devices STILL regard a sharp bend in the road as a junction.
Confused drivers are having SatNav related accidents
Admiral identified that drivers using sat navs and map phone apps commonly stated that
they had being given wrong directions which directly led to them having an accident. Admiral
also identified that drivers commonly blamed the devices for distracting them, leading to
them having an accident. Another common cause Admiral identified was that the sat nav
didn’t advise the driver of the road layout ahead, which was unfamiliar to them.
Other claims were made because the driver found themselves in the wrong lane while
following sat nav instructions and then attempted to correct themselves. Roundabout related
accidents were another common accident theme the insurer identified.
Clare Egan, Head of Motor Product at Admiral said: “With over five million motorists not
feeling confident enough to read a map for directions, many of us rely heavily on technology
to get us from A to B, but phone apps and sat navs can cause problems of their own.
“At Admiral, we’ve seen examples where people using either their sat nav or phone have
had an accident because they’ve been too distracted by the device when they should be
focussing on the road and potential hazards in front of them.
“Our investigation proves just how important it is to make sure that as a driver, you’re
confident following directions and can act safely, even if you’ve made a mistake.
“If driving somewhere new, make sure you’re prepared, check the route before you leave. If
you think you’ve taken a wrong turn, always pull over and turn your engine off before
checking your phone or sat nav to make sure you’re not breaking the law.
“Keeping a traditional road map or atlas in your car is also a good idea, in case your phone
runs out of power or your sat nav sends you down the wrong road. Getting lost can be
frustrating, but the time you might save by looking at your phone whilst driving instead of the
road will never be worth endangering the lives of yourself or others.”