Top tips when using a Sat Nav

Sat Navs are everywhere these days, so we’ve got some top tips from a driving instructor on how to use them!


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By Chloe Martell

Updated on Dec 3rd, 2020

We’ve been in touch with Paul Margiotta, a driving instructor to ask for his views on sat navs, and also for top tips on how to use them. Now that they’re a part of the driving test, it’s more important than ever to know our way around the gadget, and how to make the most out of it.
The invention of GPS has offered people the opportunity to get around without the worry and hassle of actually having to plan their journey prior to entering the car. Your parents may remember the days where you would print a road by road route of your journey accompanied by a map sprawled across the car! If you were lucky enough you might have had a passenger with you to negotiate the route, who would no doubt be barking directions at you as they tried to find the correct route as it bypassed the fold of the paper. The stress levels alone that this little invention must have saved has probably been priceless. With modern day life now permanently on fast forward, the invention of the sat nav should on paper save precious time and money. Of course like everything in life even the sat nav is not invincible with stories often being told of how ‘the sat nav lead me into a ford!’
When I qualified as a Driving Instructor the first thing I purchased to help me with my new vocation was a Sat Nav. I started teaching in an area that I was not overly familiar with. Without being distracted I was able to teach and plan my routes effectively. Occasionally I guided my student into a no through road but I used this opportunity to get my student to perform a turn in the road. It wasn’t long before my confidence had increased and I was happily navigating my way around the best routes to teach pupils thanks to this handy little device. As a new driver, your sat nav will probably come in handy for getting to know routes around your local area and to your favourite places – and for adventures further afield!
My views on the use of the Sat Nav during driving tests are a little mixed. For those pupils who struggle with planning for the independent part of the driving test, the introduction of the Sat Nav giving you a few simple instructions on the lead up to a roundabout, for example, has helped greatly. I have found my students have responded positively to the visual aspect of the Sat Nav, whereby they are able to see clearly where the position of the car should be on the road. However, I believe that totally relying on a sat nav can be risky as people often become overly reliant on it and forget to use their common sense and their own judgement in dealing with complex junctions or can become distracted and stare at the screen trying to work out what lane to be in. Happy Sat-Naving

1 Put the Sat Nav in a sensible position

The Highway Code states that your windscreen should be kept clear of all obstructions for obvious reasons. Windscreen pillars already create blind spots without adding a sat nav in an awkward position too. The safest position to place your sat nav is in the bottom right-hand corner of your windscreen. If it is placed anywhere else, this could be illegal. You need to have a clear view of the road and your surroundings, without a sav nav distracting you.

2 Common sense is a must

Remember you are driving the car not the Sat Nav. If you commit an offence or cause an accident it’s ultimately your fault, not the sat nav’s! If you are not sure what the device has instructed you to do or think you may be going the wrong way, you must pull over in a safe and convenient place to check. Do not attempt to touch the sat nav or change route while driving!

3 Turn up the volume

To prevent consistently glancing across at your Sat Nav ensure that the volume is turned up sufficiently and is not overpowered by the music playing in the car. Continuously checking the Sat Nat can be distracting and potentially be the cause of an accident. Sat nav and the driving test

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