In the 1970s, the must-have automotive accessory was the fuzzy dice. Forty years later, it is the in-car GPS / satellite navigation system. It has as effectively replaced the seat pocket map book as the Apple iPod has replaced the Sony Discman.
Now, GPS / sat nav users are playing a potentially dangerous new game whereby they attempt to “beat” their portable / in-dash unit’s estimated time of arrival. It’s a game where things like road rules, speed limits and other drivers are mere impediments to “winning” the game.
A recent study by ICM Research found that as many as 7.2 million UK drivers have endeavored to “beat the GPS”, with 3.6 million of those admitting to breaking the posted speed limit to do so in the past twelve months.
Furthermore, 144,000 of those 7.2 million had been involved in a collision with another motor vehicle, 200,000 had hit the curb, 161,000 exhibited antisocial driving behaviour towards others, 1.2 million ran yellows lights and 570,000 did not slow down at roundabouts and intersections.
The study also found that the UK’s worst affected regions were Yorks and Humber.
Road safety advocates like Caroline Perry, the Events & Marketing Manager for road safety charity Brake, have decried the practice:
“People who are racing their GPS system are putting themselves and the lives of other road users at risk. Speeding is a highly irresponsible act which causes deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Every road death is unacceptable and causes devastation to families, so it is essential that drivers give the act of driving their full attention when behind the wheel, and they obey the laws of our roads at all times.”
Ben Tyte, head of car insurance at Sainsbury's Finance, which commissioned the ICM study, echoes these remarks:
“Used correctly GPS units are a fantastic invention that help drivers navigate effectively and concentrate on the road far more than when using maps or printed directions. However, we are encouraging drivers using this new driving technology to have the safety of any passengers, other road users and pedestrians at the forefront of their minds and not be tempted to become GPS racers.”
Unfortunately, it seems as GPS / sat nav devices become increasingly popular this practice is only set to continue and worse. Carscoop will keep abreast of any developments in this matter and report on them post-haste.
By Tristan Hankins
Story sources: ICM Research & The Independent