Motorists resort to road atlases amid problems with satnav

Motorists in the UK are increasingly resorting to road atlases amid technology problems with the satellite navigation (satnav) systems, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The Department for Transport has been holding discussions with satellite navigation device manufacturers about solving some of the technological problems created by technology.

The recent reports of foreign lorry and coach drivers getting stuck in small country lanes, and the futility of a recorded voice urging a driver to make a sudden u-turn in the middle of a traffic jam are factors influencing drivers to keep an up-to-date map in the car. A Cornish councillor has also launched a campaign for updating the Highway Code to take into account the perils of turn-by-turn navigation.

Meanwhile, DfT minister Norman Baker and motoring groups have welcomed the news that motorists were going back to using road atlases.

‘I am delighted. I don’t use a sat nav in my car, I use a road atlas, they are far more reliable,’ said Baker.

‘The increase in atlas sales suggests that many drivers are taking a belt-and-braces approach to route-finding,’ said Edmund King, the AA’s president, adding: ‘Having an atlas on board helps them to double-check a road to make sure it’s suitable.’

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC foundation, commented: ‘Is it that drivers don’t trust the sat navs or do not trust their ability to use them? Perhaps map reading should be one of those core skills taught at school alongside maths and English.’

While the AA has registered an increase in demand for its atlases in recent months, citing one publisher, the Telegraph said that the sale of road atlases has increased by 10 per cent in the past year, especially among older motorists.

However, a spokesman for Tom Tom, a leading satnav manufacturer, said: ‘Research we carried out over the summer showed that despite Britain’s road network changing by up to 15 percent every year, it seems that many drivers in the UK continue to drive with out-of-date maps.

‘In addition more motorists now use sat navs than don’t use them – 51 percent of UK drivers use a satnav while 42 percent of people driving with a map still get lost on a car journey and 24 percent of motorists relies on a map that is more than three years old,’ he added.