An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: N

Navigation Aids.

In the UK, they are known as Satnavs, short for ‘Satellite Navigation’. There are many types, including the removable ones like the one above. These have to be taken away with you when you stop, or someone will soon be smashing the car window to steal it.

Some more expensive cars offer ones built into the car dashboard, often part of the car’s ‘Entertainment System’. Some add-ons include warning of speed cameras, traffic delays due to roadworks, and international maps for driving in Europe. All very nice, when it works.

They require constant updating to stay accurate, and the removable ones have to be connected to a computer to allow this.

My experience with them has not been good. Using one I bought for Julie, it constantly told us to ‘Turn Right’ when we were on a long bridge crossing a river. I have also been instructed to ‘Take the next exit’ where there was no exit. One issue seems to be that they need to receive a strong signal at all times. In some country districts and remote areas, this is just not possible.

Then there is the safety aspect. Almost all involve taking your eyes off the road briefly, to check on your progress. Yes, they talk to you and tell you where to go, but the desire to look at them is overwhelming.

These days, Google Maps on any smartphone offers the option of a free Satvav. Once again, signal strength is crucial, so I wouldn’t want to rely on it. It also uses up your phone battery very quickly as it has to update every few seconds.

I use a map. A big book of maps of Great Britain, buying an up to date one every couple of years. I look at it before I leave, and picture the journey in my head. For example. ‘A47 to A11, then all the way to junction 23’. Put the map away, and just do that, with nobody telling me to deviate. If I encounter any problems, I pull off the road into a lay-by or service area, and check the map again.

I have been driving for fifty-one years, and maps have never let me down once.

47 thoughts on “An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: N

  1. I cannot use the things. Somehow they addle my brain. I stick to maps on paper in big books. Those atlas books also reveal things like streams and parks. My husband likes the app, so one day we didn’t take the paper map. Of course in the far corner of Connecticut there was no reception. We kept driving and I said “we must be almost to New York.”(Kind of as if you had said “we must be nearing Scotland.” Amazingly enough we saw a sign “Entering New York.” At least we then knew we had to go in the opposite direction. No more electronic maps for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) ‘Turn Right’ when we were on a long bridge crossing a river.” That was a bridge too far.
    (2) “Yes, they talk to you and tell you where to go.” My response: “The hell you say!”
    (3) “They require constant updating to stay accurate.” When the SatNav tells you to take the second trail after the next Apache village, and then stop to water the horses at Guidry Gulch before proceeding to Fort Bledsoe, then you know it’s time for an update.
    (4) You use a “big book of maps of Great Britain.” I once used a small book of maps for Monaco.
    (5) Steven Bray’s political road map: “Take this Brexit and shove it up your arse!” (Steven Bray is the name of a stupid donkey who lost his way.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not very good with directions and had one on my last car. I didn’t use it very often, only when I had lost and had to stop. Then I’d use it until I reached a place I knew. I resist using them on the phone when I’m on foot, but they can be convenient. During my last trip to the US, a few years back, we had a problem with the hire car and they ended up giving us one with no Sat Nav, and trying to find a map to buy was like mission impossible. And let me tell you, people weren’t very good at giving directions either! (I must confess to enjoying turning it on in my car only to do the opposite to what it was telling me to do and watching it trying to recalibrate). πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember using Google Maps once when I was on foot. That was when I had to WALK back late at night from Notre Dame Stadium to my accommodation in South Bend. I had to walk or to wait for hours before a taxi could have reached the stadium after the match. I was happy to have Google Maps because I would never have found my place otherwise

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been using them for the last 20 years. For the last 10 years, one was built into my vehicle. Never had to update one. Maps are getting harder to find and now they want money for them. Go figure? Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love maps, but they are hard to check when you are the driver so I also like my Garmin, though it always seems to want to send me down the narrowest of lanes, even though I have checked the settings. I find it very useful if I am going to a strange town/city especially when I travelled a lot in my teaching role. But once I know my way to somewhere I am usually fine at finding my way again without a map. I probably use mine more here just for keeping an eye on my speed!

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  6. I don’t like them. I know you are only supposed to glance at them but I find myself staring at the screen instead of the road. If I’m going somewhere new, I check the route on google and print it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “One issue seems to be that they need to receive a strong signal at all times. In some country districts and remote areas, this is just not possible.”
    To the best of my knowledge, the signal they get is the same everywhere as they rely neither on a phone nor an internet connection, but get their signal(s) fro geo-stationary GPS satellites. The same holds for navigation by cell phones.
    I use Google Maps frequently when I’m on my own in the big cities here, or just as a backup on the highways in case there is a detour. When my wife is with me, we don’t use an App, as she knows her way around in an amazing lot of locations. When we travel longer distances, we prepare/plan our route with a “regular old-fashioned” map plus with Google Maps on the computer, and Mary writes the route down with the main turning-points and roads. [That, btw, is real fun: anticipating your trip.] We then (sometimes) use the App for the last mile to the place we want to stay at. And there, in towns/cities we are not familiar with, to e.g. find a restaurants.
    As to being distracted: I rarely look at the screen closely, but listen to it. I remember having been way more distracted when I was driving with my road map open in front of me on the steering-wheel.
    As to accuracy: I can’t remember a single instance when the guidance was incorrect. What I like especially on the large [four or more lanes] highways in our neck of the woods is the fact that I’m told way in advance [ca. 2 miles] which lane I need to take at an intersection.
    As to energy consumption of a cell-phone used for navigation: yes, they do need a lot, especially for the screen. But that’s no problem as they can be plugged into the car’s power supply.
    So, as you can see, I’m quite a fan.
    To conclude, two more remarks:
    I really like another GPS-based app, “Gas Buddy”, which shows me the gasoline prices at different gas stations nearby or on my route. That has helped me to save up to 20 cents per gallon.
    And – about accuracy: there used to be a funny commercial here, for an insurance company. Someone is driving with the help of a navigation system, and you hear the voice saying, “Turn right!” The driver does, and ends up in a store window. And then you hear the voice from the navigation App again, “In 50 feet”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t think I would mange without Google maps on m phone for journeys to new places, but I’m pretty good at finding places again once I have made the journey.
    On long journeys I tend to look for big towns or cities and then just follow the road signs until I get close then switch to maps as I’m not keen on the constant chatter when its obvious where to go next.
    Mind you if I had have taken more notice of Google in the past on a trip to Austria I would have saved a good few hours as it knew about the closed road that I wasn’t able to translate from the diversion signs πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t have a problem with SatNavs, particularly, but neither do I have any use for them for precisely the reasons you have detailed. I find the process of researching my route in a road atlas quite enjoyable, and I either write a text document and print it, or print the Google maps directions if they are suitable. If the route isn’t too complicated, I might dictate the route into my phone, which I can play at a rest stop; I don’t need to look at the phone while I’m driving, of course! Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like maps too – I never go away without an OS map of the area and I have a road atlas in the car. I do however use googlemaps on my phone for directions as it’s very useful. I don’t want a satnav though

    Liked by 1 person

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