/ Motoring, Technology

Blame the driver, not the sat nav, for car accidents

Sat nav in car

If you have a car accident as a result of poor navigation should you blame your sat nav or the driver? Research suggests that sat navs are at fault, but I think that drivers need to take more responsibility for their actions.

So, someone’s collected insurance claims data suggesting sat navs are to blame for causing accidents.

It’s probably true to say that, though a sat nav is a useful aid, it can certainly be a distraction for any driver, especially if it’s not installed sensibly. But surely it isn’t as distracting as trying to read a map while on the move!

And while we have probably all been misled by our sat navs at some stage (they are far from foolproof in my experience), they are not in charge of the car – we are!

So when I read the claim from Confused.com that ‘sat navs have caused over £200 million worth of damage to drivers on UK roads as a result of accidents caused by misleading directions,’ it made me cross!

Surely the driver makes the decisions. It is us who must consider all the road conditions and not just follow a sat nav blindly like some robot, incapable of doing anything except reacting to ‘do a u-turn where possible’ or other such inane announcements.

In my view, the sat nav is a useful additional component in a car. But the most important component – and the one that should take both credit and blame for the outcomes of every driving manoeuvre – is the person behind the wheel.

Who or what is most responsible for accidents caused by misdirection?

The driver (84%, 234 Votes)

The sat nav (16%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 284

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I blame the driver – every time. It is their responsibility to ensure they drive safely

couldn’t agree more! too many “accidents” caused by drivers who are concentrating on everything apart from the road ahead

Alan Tye Royal Designer says:
18 February 2012

You may not be able to drive at all if you have a Mercedes navigation system which has twice taken us to petrol stations in Sweden which do not and never have existed, then indicating a route ending up at the edge of water with no means of crossing.

Sue, Alan! Take your Merc Dealer to the Small Claims Court. This is a clear case of nor being fit for purpose (though not dangerous). Then use the compensation (because yours is an integrated satnav and you need the other functions) to buy a reliable portable satnav like TomTom or Garmin. I know you lose that big screen, but you get much cheaper updates and you can use it in pedestrian streets, too, or on your bike (but stop to consult it).

As I said on the last thread on this topic, there are many elements to staying safe while driving: point of focus; skill; physical and mental acuity (think tiredness, illness, drugs, distractions); road conditions, weather conditions and speed (affects response times per metre).

To help combat the risks as conditions vary, we need to use our whole ability, including multi-sensing. So we have, physically, foot pedals as well as hand controls, for example. Satnave are a useful adjunct both to forward planning and to navigating nearby hazards like bends (middle distance) and corners (close). They engage both visual cues from the brief looks we take on the screen, and audible cues, when we draw the voice prompts into our own sense perceptions.

Common-sense use of a satnav is a real safety boon, as well as being probably the best navigation aid – provided that it assists our other sensing instead of supplanting it. But then, common sense was always uncommon!

Sorry you have to know your own limitations and drive within them – or you are a dangerous driver to other drivers.

There are no excuses – except possibly catastrophic sudden failure of your car – and that is very rare. I’ve never used a sat nav .and never had a crash (they are not accidents) I do have a sat nav – bought it several years ago -. but decided it was unsafe to use.

Interesting I do not ever read a map on the move – First I plan the route thoroughly using maps – make a route list – If I ever need to refresh my memory I stop the car to check.

Quite right, Richard. Your first comment echoes my last. How often, though, do you stop on a no-stopping dual carriageway to recheck your directions? I suspect that you try to memorize them, and if you can’t, pull off onto a cross road to stop. That occasionally happened to me.

My satnav makes this unnecessary without distracting my concentration, though I do tend to switch it on only when I need it most because, like you, I read maps well and prefer my own planning to the satnav’s. And I do plan well as I drive: advanced training makes it difficult to do otherwise without a feeling of dread.

Most people do not have this high level of skills and find a satnav a boon. It also makes them safer because if you are poor at navigating and try to do it as you drive, this is a recipe for disaster; ie, it causes enough accidents to be significant. I suspect that the safety problem for most people is that the genuinely don’t know their own limitations, having never tested them, and are overoptimistic.

For example, at least a third of drivers will go dangerously fast in a crowded urban area, having underestimated both the hazards and their stopping distance; when the inevitable happens, it’s a big incident, not a small one. And by fast, I might mean 20mph. And three-quarters of drink-drivers think that they are safer after ‘a few’, despite the huge mass of evidence proving them to be very wrong.

Maybe what we need is to prove all this to them; the problem is that most drivers don’t see a problem and won’t take the time. This who do an advanced ‘test drive’ are usually shocked by the results, but the majority of drivers will never get even to this point. More driver education is needed, maybe by shock adverts (but believable ones) as they did in the ’70s. Without a change in public opinion, more and better driver training is politically impossible (ie, unpopular). So we get back to this: Dave Evans, you’re right!

David – I never knowingly break the law so never stop on double yellow lines it is illegal. Second in all honesty my route list is comprehensive as I have studied the map closely and the aid memoir of writing it down increases the probability of remembering it. accurately and very rarely do I ever have to stop – and I always stop safely. The only time I do is usually because there is road works or a new one way street but then there are road signs to direct me around safely which make a sat nav unnecessary .

From what I’ve learned from friends (and driving with them) is sat navs engender a totally unjustified sense of confidence and they are often inaccurate (the cause of the crashes). So far I’ve never had to use one in isolation – I always use pre-planning by map as a backup.frankly I’m not too impressed with them.

I agree that sat navs may make some feel more confident but far too many follow them slavishly.

The whole point of this conversation is that studies show sat navs cause accidents and I contend the fault is with the driver not the sat nav – simple. How can drivers be safer if the sat navs cause the crashes??

The fact there are 1000’s of incompetent drivers simply means they shouldn’t drive without thought as so many do. I suggest that more stringent testing possibly including use of sat navs and public awareness is required but frankly it will not make a difference.as too many are naturally incompetent.

Maybe there should be stiff fines or increases in insurance premiums for sat nav induced crashes..

I always used to do as you do, Richard, until I tried out a satnav – and loved it for its help in allowing me to keep my focus on my driving, while still navigating. Satnavs don’t cause accidents – people do. And satnavs are no different to any other kind of distraction if they are taking your attention from hazards – you need to refocus on your surroundings immediately.

I actually suspect that satnavs enhance safety for all users, because less competent drivers can keep road focus better when the satnav is guiding direction that when they’re trying to navigate by map, road sign or street name while still driving. In other words, a poor driver is safer navigating by satnav than in other ways.

Not everyone is as responsible as you, Richard. And I reckon that if you tried using your satnav as it was meant to be used – as an adjunct – then it would improve your own safety, too.

I don’t have much of a sense of direction so I use a sat-nav whenever I drive to an unfamiliar place, though I do plan my route before setting off. It saves me stopping to check street maps and removes the stress of driving in a built-up area.

Apart from the fact that my cheap sat-nav is keen to send me through city centres rather than round ring roads it is pretty good at pointing me in the right direction. The only time something really odd happened was yesterday, when I was directed into a field beside a country road.

I don’t go around having accidents but on balance I think I am safer with the sat-nav than without it.

So someone’s collected insurance claims data suggesting sat navs are to blame for causing accidents? I think not. Before the technophobes get too excited, this piece of pseudo-research was conducted by PR agency OnePoll for Confused.com based on a survey of 2000 respondents.

They found that: “45% of British drivers have confessed to feeling angry and frustrated while behind the wheel, which has lead to 31% of British motorists red faced, spending between £100 – £500 on Sat Nav related car damage.”

Note the reported level of damage is below most drivers’ excess, so this wouldn’t manifest itself in insurance claims data.

Realistically, what driver has not damaged a wheel, or scraped some paint trying to extricate their way out of a cul-de-sac, pot-holed cinder track or other tight situation? We used to blame it on our own bad luck, stupidity, or even getting lost – now some of us have a sat nav we can blame it on.

I suspect the vast majority of these minor prangs would occur anyway, with or without the aid of sat nav. We don’t know, because the poll doesn’t tell us the rate of damage caused when not using a sat nav.

Maybe the alleged “Sat Nav related car damage” is simply the result of these red faced motorists chucking the thing out the window in a rage and denting the bonnet.

Therefore it’s a bit of a leap from the results of this straw poll to suggest that sat navs are in any way to blame for causing (serious) accidents.

To borrow from a remark attributed to Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and, if you can’t have cute meerkats on the payroll, statistics designed to get people to visit your website and leave their email addresses.”

But yes, all accidents are the fault of the driver.

I have to agree with you, Em. And I think that accidents ascribed to a satnav are actually caused by everything but.

What a satnav – badly programmed or inaccurate – can do, though, is to lead you inappropriately where you should not go. And if you are then so surprised at, for example, finding yourself going the wrong way up a one-way-street, that you crash into an oncoming car, then of course it’s the satnav’s fault! Otherwise it might be yours!

And if you’re peering at the screen, which might be clearer to understand, and overshoot a junction and hit another vehicle: why, the satnav’s to blame! It should have been clearer!

So I agree with you. The survey is about the way that people ascribe blame in an incident, not about the actual cause. Maybe this is rich research ground for a behavioural psychologist!

Since lamp posts and stationary cars have been blamed for causing accidents perhaps the sat nav could be exonerated.

Why is it that every time we have a topic related to motoring, some people get worked up and critical of other drivers. One of the best ways to keep our roads safe is to be patient and tolerant.

I find that my sat nav encourages me to drive more slowly. Without it, I often assume I will arrive late for a meeting but the sat nav generally shows that I will arrive in good time. It also provides confirmation of speed limits in between signs.

@David. Isn’t this another example of a well-understood human trait? We tend to act first and try to rationalize/justify our decision second, even when it doesn’t make a lot of sense: “I ran into the wall/stream/parked car, because the sat nav told me to drive down here!”

@Wavechange. It’s not too surprising that some people get worked up. These studies are written primarily to whip up public frenzy and get the sponsor’s name in the media. Look at some of the emotive words used in the press release:

“overwhelming” and

Hardly words you would use in a rational debate about the merits of satellite navigation.

And I’m with you on this. If I’m driving to an appointment some distance away I will set the sat nav, even if I know the way. I can pace my journey better – often enabling me to cruise at a low motorway speed. And it gives me plenty of warning before a turn-off is even signposted and exactly what the layout is going to be.

“OK, it’s only 2 miles to go and I’ve plenty of time; hold back before this stream of traffic and avoid having to cut in to turn left at the roundabout.” I certainly wouldn’t drive in Paris or London without one!

‘Incredible’ 🙂

You will never get a job in popular journalism, Em, if you reject the language – so stick around here and carry on dispensing down-to-earth common sense.

Alan Tye Royal Designer says:
18 February 2012

Here are other faults of a navigation system which cannot be blamed on drivers. On two occasions our new Mercedes Navigation has directed us to petrol stations that do not and never have existed. This can cause serious difficulties particularly in areas where petrol stations are few and far between.
We have also been taken on a crazy route which ended up at water’s edge with no possibility of crossing.
The system also guides us to places which have been closed for over 5 years. Mercedes response is absurd excuses such as, quote, “we endeavour to provide the best product and services available”.

Fine, Alan, but we’re discussing satnavs here as the cause of accidents. It’s the driver’s responsibility not to trust a satnav so entirely that he drives into a river because the marked route goes there. And it’s not dangerous to find that you drive to a non-existent petrol station and risk being stranded, just intensely irritating. Surely you wouldn’t say that rage caused by such defects isn’t the driver’s fault? My whole point, and author Dave Evans’, is the driver causes the incidents, not the machine.

Of course it’s the fault of the driver, the car doesn’t drive itself does it? 🙂

Julian David Eckley says:
27 February 2012

My Wife Was Involved In A Road Traffic Accident Due To No Fault The Person Was From Another Country And He Was Using One Of These Sat Navs He Thought He Could Use The Left Hand Lane To Do A Right Turn On A Roundabout Colliding In To My Wife How Good Is That !!

As the title says, Julian, “blame the driver, not the satnav”. It’s a driver’s responsibility to be in the right place, not the machine’s. Long before satnav, I recall driving the wrong way round a deserted roundabout in eastern France – with a police patrol car crew watching! If there had been traffic on the roundabout, I’d have realized. The police driver just shook his head at me, I’m glad to say – “Crazy Rosbif!”

May the gods helps us, is this what we have been reduced to….

Cast your minds back a year or so to this tragedy:
Dad driving the car, despite road signs telling him not to turn right at a notorious junction, his satnav said turn right, so he did and his daughter died in the crash.
At court he blamed the satnav for telling him to turn right, a police Sergeant went to the junction with a similar ‘ satnav’ and found it had not been updated and so was telling him to turn right, the result was front page news.

Her father was not prosecuted. Personally I believe that having to live with the guilt of killing his daughter is more than enough punishment for being a t**t. But the inference was that his mitigation of the satnav instructions overiding clear road signage was given credence.

Read the story here

Now can any of you software geeks tell me how to programme a satnav to tell drivers to go to the bank and place monies into my account, as it seems they will do anything the machine tells them to.

It’s a sorry place for us all to be in, indeed, M.

My satnav shows an extra screen full of stuff on start-up since my last update last week. It won’t let me get going without agreeing to an on-screen legal notice, stating:

“It is your responsibility to observe safe driving practices and to place, secure and use your produce in a manner that will not cause accidents, personal injury and property damage. Do not operate your product while driving.

“TomTom does not guarantee the error-free operation of your product, nor the completeness or accuracy of the services or any content provided hereon. TomTom does not accept and disclaims and liability for any loss or damage arising out of or in connection with the use or inability to use the services or any content.”

It then continues with the old message which has been on the unit since I bought it several years ago:

“Drive Safely

Drive responsibly and observe safe driving practice:

– Place, secure and use your TomTom product in a manner that will not cause accidents, personal injury or property damage.

– Always check the traffic situation before you follow a spoken instruction and obey road signs and traffic rules.

– Do not operate your product while driving.

Press Continue…”

I think that sums it all up. It’s a pity that the court wasn’t clearer in the case you mention – though, as you said, any ruling on responsibility won’t change the main punishment, which will be with him all his life. My dad, decades ago, killed by crushing a little boy who rushed out from between parked cars. The van was only travelling slowly, as he was being careful in a narrow street, and the court found him not to be responsible at all. But it haunted him till he died.

I hate to say this, but i think it’s apt.

m’laud I was only following orders, wasn’t acceptable then and certainly not know. Especially when you consider what is giving the orders!

Absolutely! But a clever lawyer will find any excuse.

Sophie Gilbert says:
13 March 2012

Re clever lawyers, this is only legend, but I love the tale of the guy setting the cruise control in his Winnebago and going into the back to make himself a cup of coffee, and meanwhile the Winnebago leaves the road and crashes. The guy successfully sues Winnebago for not advising him in the handbook that he couldn’t do this.

This doesn’t mean I’m flippant about this subject, however. Blaming the satnav is wrong every time in my book, and bad/dangerous driving is never sufficiently punished either (another subject).

AlexTLF says:
17 April 2012


How come it’s illegal to watch tv whilst driving but legal to watch a sat nav TV screen?

Sat navs are useful but should only be audible whilst the car is in motion.

The fewer things that distract you from taking your eyes off the road the better. Picture at the top of this screen is a good example.

For whatever reason sat navs do distract drivers which does lead to accidents but this is definately a case of ‘boys and their toys’.

Taking a wrong turning and having to find your way again is not the cause of accidents.

Sat nav tv screens should be made to automatically switch off whilst the car is in motion.

I can see where you’re coming from, Alex – and that’s certainly a problem for a few sat-nav users who have problems with the necessary multi-tasking that driving is.

To take your argument further, ‘taking your eyes off the road’ is what we mustn’t do. So no glancing at the instruments, no checking the rear-view mirror, for example, and certainly no looking around as we drive. And we can treat our other senses the same way – any distractions from the plain task of driving could cause an accident if they come at just the wrong moment. So, keep your hands on the wheel – no reaching for a control, let alone the radio. No gear changing. Keep your ears ready for warnings – so no listening to passengers (who must be totally silent), no radio on. And so on.

Don’t think I’m criticizing – all these points have been raised by road safety experts, who have tried to measure the proportionate impact of different kinds of distraction from full attention ahead, and their likely impact on hazard perception. There turn out to be three broad classes of distraction:

1) things that need our major attention, which are seriously implicated in horrible crashes: phoning someone, composing a text message, watching a video, for example – and yes, trying to help a fractious or howling child while still driving, too.

2) minor but unnecessary distractions, which can be switched out of your attention instantly: listening to and talking to a passenger, the radio, operating electric windows and heating, for example. A ‘sensible’ driver will only give passing attention to these, all the while aware of what’s coming up ahead and picking a quiet moment, but they have been the cause of bad accidents when the driver gave them too much attention. It’s best to stop if that’s safer.

3) necessary distractions from the road ahead which are needed to drive and navigate safely, such as changing gear, checking the instruments and observing rear, far ahead and sides. All of these take place for moments only so that the immediate forward area is completely observed – and most drivers do these things every few seconds without consciously thinking about it, and safely. Only on very rare occasions would, say, glancing into a mirror, be enough of a distraction to be dangerous – once in tens of millions of occasions.

The sat-nav is placed in the third group by most experts, regarded as a navigational instrument. Because it is auditory as well as visual, the driver can use momentary visual cues to augment the spoken warnings and instructions, seamlessly incorporating navigation by sat-nav into other visual cues without danger. And the sat-nav gives an excellent far-front observation for planning and hazard preparation. Used like this, a sat-nav is safer than not having one when the driver is also navigating, and about as safe as having a trusted navigator calling directions and cues (no normal driver totally relies on another person to do this – only Special Section Rallying works this way, and is terrifying for a beginner).

So, summing up, I disagree with you that the visuals on a sat-nav should be blanked while driving. This would increase hazard risk, by ignoring an important aid to driving safely. But if you personally cannot drag your eyes from the screen when you mean only to glance at it, you would be wise, as you suggest, to cover the sat-nav while driving.

AlexTLF says:
17 April 2012

Ok – Points taken and maybe I try to simplify things too much but:

With regard to safety, what does looking at a sat nav screen tell you that an audible warning couldn’t tell you?

I have tried using satnavs without looking at the screen and that has been remarkably unhelpful. My satnav helps ensure that I know what I am doing at roundabouts and keep in the correct lane at complex road networks. I reckon that constantly checking the speedometer and speed limit signs is more distracting.

I suggest that the satnav is in front of the driver and includes the actual speed and speed limit for the road, automatically updated to accommodate temporary restrictions that are in force.

Hmm – ever had to complete a journey in dense fog at night, in a foreign country with a mountain on one side and a river gorge on the other? My Toyota sat nav gives an overhead map view of the road ahead. I can see at a glance which way the road bends next and how tight the bends are – I can’t hear that.

Yes I have: driving though central Jamaica, luckily the gorge was only 200 ft deep with the sides covered in thick vegetation and I was in a Toyota Hilux. More of a slow motion roll than a death dive.
Moral, don’t drive on foggy nights along winding, treacherous, unguarded mountain roads.
I still don’t use a satnav, but if that is what they do now I might try one, can you give me the make & model of the one that does this.

Hi, M.
Almost all sat-navs will do this. I find the best are the ones (most, again) which can show you a 3D view, so the closest bends are large, and the territory in the distance smaller, but allowing you to plan well ahead. Even in thick night fog, it’s almost good enough to be like the view from the cabin of a very high vehicle. And most, again, can give you a ‘night view’, which switches colours to lines on a black background which don’t give glare to night-adjusted eyes. The better sat-navs allow you a choice of such colour and layout schemes.

This is why advance planning as well as getting a good view of what you’re coming to in the next few seconds is so much easier and safer with sat-nav help. And it IS only help, one more aid to driving in better safety. The point is that a sat-nav combines map data about the road, its junctions and its environs with an accurate GPS marker for exactly where you are. Using this, it can provide far more services than simply a ‘turn left here’ type of help. That service alone was a decade ago. In this forum so far, half-a-dozen other aids haven’t even been mentioned.

Absolutely. Many people criticise satnavs before they try them. Fortunately I was not one of them but I wish I had been an early adopter rather than glancing at road maps when it was safe – and sometimes unsafe – to do so.

I do believe that all satnavs maps should update automatically, for maximum safety so that users are always using the most accurate information.

@M – as David says, most sat navs will give sufficient information about the road ahead. This was just a “for instance” of something an audible warning could not provide.

For the record, mine is a Toyota/Lexus OEM-fitment Denso Generation 5. Because it is integrated, the screen in larger, the controls less fiddly and voice activation is an option – I can zoom the screen or answer the phone without taking my hands off the steering wheel. If you look at the “Telematics” article in Wikipedia, you can see a picture of one.

Obviously, it is better not to find oneself in such a situation, but safety is always a trade-off. Coming to a complete stand-still in a situation of very limited visibility risks another motorist slamming into the back of you with similar consequences.

Including the facility to answer the phone does not demonstrate a responsible attitude of the car manufacturer, in my humble opinion. Two steps forward and one step back.

@Wavechange – I don’t have to answer it if it’s not safe to do so. I’m just saying it is better than the option of fumbling with an independent “hands-free” mobile setup.

And if we are going down the road of “responsible” car manufacturers, what modern car isn’t capable of exceeding the speed limit by a very large margin? That’s at least four steps back, unless you credit the driver with some responsibility for their behavour.

I strongly agree that cars should not be able to exceed the national speed limit. That would be easy to achieve in modern vehicles with computer control. Some motorists claim that being able to exceed speed limits is necessary to get out of dangerous situations. I can’t remember examples of this in over 40 years of driving.

In the past two years I have had to take prompt action to avoid three collisions with drivers distracted by using hands-free phones at roundabouts. (Either that or they were talking to themselves.) I am not claiming that hands-free phones are always dangerous, but I don’t think it is too much to expect a driver to stop their car before making or receiving a call.

Wavechange has made a great new point about sat-nav facilities (17 April, answering AlexTLF). Should we be answering, let alone making, phone calls, while driving – even using a sat-nav to make it safer? I think it needs a new string.

Despite the obvious dangers, wide publicity and quite severe penalties, many people MUST phone while driving. They live in touch with other people and may be running their business or engaging in important (to them) social interactions while on the move – don’t waste time, is the catchphrase. Many of these clearly think that they can phone while driving with sufficient safety.

The research puts engaging with a phone call as either risky or very dangerous, depending what you are doing. The dangerous stuff is actions which need full concentration – like dialling, texting and fumbling to press buttons and read the screen in general. No sane person will quibble with the expert view that doing these things takes your concentration from where it should be – on the road.

In theory, talking with someone on the phone while driving is no more dangerous than talking with a passenger, and all the same rules apply: road awareness first, conversation stopping as you need to concentrate on driving more. But in practice, the research has shown again and again, that talking on the phone somehow engages you a lot more than with a passenger, and it’s very much harder to disengage from the conversation and stay safe. So talking on the phone is more dangerous whatever.

The sat-nav, and other devices too, aim to make the rest of it, the obviously dangerous stuff, safe enough to be workable while concentrating on driving. So we get hands-free selection and dialling, as well as answering (which is easy with a hands-free kit). We have voice operation of controls (which also works with other sat-nav functions). And we have a large screen to show call details and phone lists (though navigational help stops during this). The thing is, is this safe?

My own opinion is this: no, it’s not safe. But if people are going to call and answer while driving anyway, I’d rather (as the driver they’re meeting coming the other way) have them do it with sat-nav help than without. And please speed up the automatic detection of phoning while moving, so we can stop it altogether.

There is a new Conversation about the distractions of technology in cars, David.

At least passengers may shut up if they see the driver has to cope with a difficult situation. For the rest, an ejector seat might be a useful safety feature. 🙂

David and Wavechange – I agree with you both it is not safe to use a phone whilst driving. Even before the days of mobiles, I would rarely talk to a passenger, or at least would only do so at the risk of cutting them off and appearing rude, where necessary. It is simply not possible for the human brain to talk or actively listen and not be distracted from driving to the highest possible standard.

But given the government have decided that “hands-free” phone use is legal, I do feel it is more productive to prosecute the willing and persistent offenders – the commercial drivers and luxury car owners who simply can’t be bothered to install or use their hands-free equipment.

In my own defence I would normally only use my (hands-free) phone so my passenger can make or take a call with me listening in.

And how is the automatic detection of phoning whilst moving supposed to work? Is no-one going to be permitted to use a mobile phone whilst on the move, whether as a passenger in a vehicle or even walking?

It’s before my time, but I believe that our armed forces were issued cigarettes during wartime. I’m not sure that governments (of any party) are always capable of making sensible decisions.

Let’s leave it there before I am told off for taking a Conversation off-topic. 🙂

A bit of wishful thinking, that ‘phoning detection’! The technology to make it work is almost with us – the latest cheapish cameras have face detection, smile detection, etc. and adding ‘hand up at ear’ would be little more. So already existing cameras could feed likely images with matched numberplate shots to a control centre, which would match this with the owner of the vehicle and registered phones, then check whether a call was being made at the time. But this would need coordinating of several agencies’ records and probably be even less popular than MI5 having the ability to check who everyone was emailing! We’d need a photo of everyone available, a whole new industry of manual checking and putting all this together, then a new system to handle the litigation. Hey! Maybe we should do it – unemployment would go down!

@Wavechange – You said leave it there, but I think there is an even better (on-topic) example of governments not making sensible decisions about road safety.

I still remember an educated and talented female friend, who died needlessly at the age of 19 in a 30 mph car crash. No other vehicle was involved, but she was not wearing her seatbelt, as Parliament continued to dither on about “personal liberty”, being “thrown clear”, and other such nonsense.

Some years later (fortunately for me) I had already made up my own mind about the merits of seat belts, and I was saved from severe injury or death in a 50 mph collision with another vehicle that failed to stop at a Give Way. Apart from some chest compression I walked way without any injury, although both cars were written off.

Parliament eventually got its Act together, but I do wonder how many thousands of motorists were killed as a direct result of HM Government’s inaction on seatbelt wearing. And shame on the MPs concerned, for allowing self-interest, prejudice and stupidity to prevail for so long.

Thanks for trying to take us back on topic, Em. Sometimes governments get it right and I am delighted to see that plans to have a two year MOT have been abandoned.

The government could help with satnavs by insisting that the purchase costs includes updates of maps and speed limits, which could be a worthwhile safety feature.

I’m glad you survived your ordeal. I’m still suffering the effects of an accident caused by a careless driver in the 1970s.. Compensation is no recompense for permanent injury.

I have had an email from TomTom inviting me to purchase different voices for my sat nav.

The voices of cartoon characters and celebrities is going to do little to aid safety. The company should focus on selling equipment with up-to-date information. I bought a new TomTom recently and the free update is clearly not up-to-date.

I will carry on listening to Jane TomTom telling me to turn around when possible.

Will someone from TomTom please tell me why the company is offering silly voices on what should be an aid to safe driving?

The question is: Who is driving the car? The driver or the GPS / Sat-Nav?

Could be either, amoeba!

If the driver has brain engaged on the task of driving, the satnav takes no responsibility even when it’s showing incorrect data. But if the driver feels that the machine must be totally trusted, then he/she has passed over some of the responsibility to the people who keep the satnav up to date. Currently, the law does not permit this abrogation of responsibility.

This will certainly become a ‘hot potato’ in the next decade, as self-driving cars come into use. I suspect that lawyers will get very fat arguing both sides in a court case where a self-driving car is in collision with a manually-controlled one. That’s why self-driving cars will have full video recording as well as the black box recorder that insurance companies are now fitting into cars to provide charging data on place, time, speed, orientation, acceleration, etc., second by second.