Sat Navs


Sat-nav or otherwise known as Satellite Navigation System works by using satellites to track the position of your vehicle. The satellites monitor a vehicle’s heading, speed, and co-ordinates, which are then cross-referenced against a roadmap or database of zones stored aboard your vehicle. or even your mobile phone. They can then give the driver directions to a destination by comparing the vehicles heading and co-ordinates with the layout of the road network. Several different types of Sat Navs are available to drivers, many of which are built into the vehicle itself.

A well used Sat Nav can help drivers plan routes and prevent drivers from making last minute lane changes or hesitating because they are not sure of the directions, however a badly used Sat Nav can cause a distraction and increase the risk of an accident. It is important that drivers understand how best to use their Sat Nav and learn not to use it when it may be dangerous to do so.

  • Plan your journey in advance (remember to take into consideration, long-term road works, weather, type of roads (country roads or motorways), driving hours (congestion times within towns and cities, vehicle capabilities, fuel, stops, etc)
  • Position the Sat Nav safely, out of the way of airbags and not obstructing a driver’s vision (not on the windscreen, especially for haulage, bus & coaches who may be spot checked by vosa).
  • Find a method of using the Sat Nav that is not distracting to you (night mode option)
  • Always make the same observations to keep you safe that you would without the Sat Nav
  • Learn from your mistakes and if in doubt, seek refresher training.

2017-15What is the legal view using Sat Nav Equipment?

Highway Code Rule 149

You MUST exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times. You MUST NOT use a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device, when driving or when supervising a learner driver, except to call 999 or 112 in a genuine emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop. Never use a hand-held microphone when driving. Using hands-free equipment is also likely to distract your attention from the road. It is far safer not to use any telephone while you are driving or riding – find a safe place to stop first or use the voicemail facility and listen to your messages later.


Highway Code Rule 150

There is a danger of driver distraction being caused by in-vehicle systems such as satellite navigation systems, congestion warning systems, PCs, multi-media, etc. You MUST exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times. Do not rely on driver assistance systems such as cruise control and land departure warnings. They are available to assist but you should not reduce your concentration levels. Do not be distracted by maps or screen-based information while driving or riding. If necessary find a safe place to stop.

2017-18Handy Tips for Sat Navs

  • Program your sat-nav before you start your journey
  • Select the route you prefer and think about traffic congestion and times of day. This can help you to avoid delays and save fuel.
  • Position your sat-nav so that it doesn’t obstruct your vision but you can still glance at it easily when necessary.
  • Make sure that your sat-nav doesn’t obstruct an airbag.
  • Stay alert to road signs, as you would if you weren’t using the sat-nav.
  • Don’t rely on your sat-nav alone, as you may have set the destination incorrectly. You should also make sure that the maps in your sat-nav are up to date before you plan your journey.


  • People who rely on sat nav often fail to notice landmarks around them
  • This makes us vulnerable because navigation is a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ skill
  • Sat nav will not be reliable on its own to support driverless cars without expensive infrastructure, and expert has warned
  • We should make more use of our innate abilities
  • Digital Distractions can cause breaks in concentration that draw the attention of the driver away from the road

In General

Satellite navigation systems are a useful tool when in transit, but you should never rely upon them exclusively. Most are designed only for cars and smaller vehicles, so they won’t filter out inappropriate items, such as narrow lanes, weight-restricted areas or low bridges, all of which physically restrict or prohibit the passage of larger vehicles.

Only those systems specifically designed for use in large goods vehicles, buses, coaches and mobile homes will have the facility to identify and filter out areas through which it would be difficult, unsafe or impossible for such a vehicle to manoeuvre.

Be aware also that, because situations can change very quickly on roads, it’s possible there may be sudden delays or diversions which a global positioning system can’t detect. It’s also best to identify narrow roads, height restrictions, tight turnings or overhanging buildings for yourself, by manually planning your route before starting your journey. When in transit, your vehicle radio may pick up and broadcast local warnings of any sudden emergencies, delays or diversions in your vicinity. This extra warning information will help you make any urgent or necessary adjustments to your route plan.

Remember that any in-vehicle navigation system can reduce your concentration on the road and your level of control of the vehicle, so it’s advisable to restrict any visual or manual interaction with a system to an absolute minimum. In the interests of safety, you should find a safe and legal place to stop before making adjustments.


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