/ Motoring, Technology

On your marks, get set, GO! Are you a sat nav racer?

Racing driver cartoon

Apparently, one in five drivers take their sat nav’s estimated journey time less as advice and more as a challenge, according to research by Sainsbury’s. Do you try to beat your sat nav’s estimated time of arrival?

Your sat nav’s estimated journey time is usually based on average traffic speeds for the roads being travelled in. And I’m ashamed to say that last Saturday, I programmed in my destination, laughed in the face of my sat nav’s 14 minutes past 3 o’clock estimated time of arrival (ETA), and put my foot down!

Ok, I didn’t drive dangerously or knowingly break the speed limit, but I thought that, given the clear roads likely ahead, I’d have a good chance of getting there quicker than anticipated.

Don’t sat navs relax you?

Sat navs can have a significant influence on driving behaviour.

The soothing voice recommending you to “turn left” or “take the next exit” can relax and help keep your speed down, as there’s no chance of getting lost. And it certainly beats having an argument with your co-pilot!

Plus, the warning of an impending speed camera can remind you to check your speed and slow down a little. I certainly feel more relaxed when driving to an unfamiliar destination if I have my sat nav on the windscreen.

Building on this, an emotionally sensitive sat nav is in development, which reacts to the emotions of a driver, delivering its instructions in a different tone or style appropriate to the driver’s mood. Reducing road rage, and thus road safety, is the primary aim, but it looks like this technology’s completion is some way off.

Tick tock, tick tock

Yet, it seems that the ETA has the opposite effect of all these noble aims, as we misinterpret a piece of guidance as a target to beat.

Though it could have been much worse – sat navs could have featured a timer counting down to the ETA. Or a little pace car, showing the position you should have been, based on average traffic conditions… the mind boggles at the prospect!

Do you take part in “sat nav racing”? And how does your sat nav influence your driving behaviour in general?


err, I’ll be one of those 🙂

But I don’t necessarily drive recklessly or break the speed limit. My favourite place to try and beat it was in Germany when I was working for TomTom in Holland. We actually had an official “race” when they were rolling out IQ routes too.

Any other time I largely ignore the sat nav or don’t have it on if I can help it. It’s great for country roads though as a quick glance to the sat nav can tell you how tight the corner is up ahead.

Not sure how an anxious sat nav voice is going to relax me when I’m in traffic, in fact it will probably irritate me further. My sat nav is more like a validation device, I plot my route, I know my route and so I just check to see if I am on the right track and drown out the voice with various heavy metal 🙂

Sat.Nav gives relax driving. It alerts me for Speed camera,Mobile camera and warns me if I go over speed limit. I can Google it to find out for restaurants,coffee shop, parking etc. Even i can book hotel through sat.Nav We can control it with voice command also. We can make call through it and receive call also. It also gives me weather forecast and traffic problem in my route.If I am wrong lane, warns me to follow instruction immediately with 3D image on screen. It also tells me that one of the line is slow so to take another lane. We often beat estimated time of arrival. Recent model of best brand name is more advance technology.It by passes severe road delays.Should we not call it smart technology?..!….One thing I also find out that Half of the sat.nav owners do not know about options when they stuck in traffic. They simply put postcode or addresses. There are fastest route ,shortest route,avoid motorways,minimise delays. We must know our direction before we start as it can go wrong .We should also know,how to reset the Sat.nav when it gives wrong direction.
Majority people are sensible and they do not use sat nav as a racing instrument to beat estimated time
We all love our sat.navigation as it has taken away burden of map preparation and made mind more relax.

Snowdin says:
6 August 2011

As a Yorkshireman, I’m too tight with the mpg to race the sat nav, and if you stop regularly on a long journey the sat nav estimate isn’t so relevant. I do find the Tom Tom relatively accurate for motorway and dual carriageway driving, but highly inaccurate if the journey involves a lot of minor roads. On a local rural 30 mile journey it regularly overestimates by 20 minutes despite frugal driving techniques. I find the Live Maps function on my IPad far more accurate for planning journeys.

I find the ETAs given by satnavs tend to be realistic, although there are a few areas where the mapping leads to rather pessimistic estimates.

But the very thought of ‘racing’ the ETA strikes me as incredibly childish. If you’re tempted to race the satnav, you really should ask yourself the question “Am I old enough, and mature enough, to drive?”

In the early-mid 1990’s, before Satnav, I undertook a project to predict journey times for what was then the UK’s biggest private employer. If a driver thought they had to race to get to the destination then my estimate was likely to be incorrect. The same goes for Satnav estimates. There is an easy way to compensate for this in the majority of cases. So if you have an overwhelming urge to race the satnav, adjust the estimated speed settings in a downward direction. It will help you to improve your fuel consumption too.