Truck and coach drivers using satnavs to help them find their way to their
destination may find their performance behind the wheel is negatively affected as
a result of the systems.
This is according to research conducted by Lancaster University and Royal
Holloway, University of London, which found following complicated instructions
leads to individuals driving faster and making more steering variations.
They are also less likely to notice pedestrians stepping into the road if they are
focusing on their gadget, the study found.
Dr Pragya Agarwal from Lancaster University said: "The results from our research
have implications for the way these systems can be designed to be more effective
and user-friendly in the future."
This could be highly important in improving road safety as the devices are
becoming increasingly ubiquitous, she stated.
Dr Agarwal said it is vital to gain a more complete understanding of what
decisions drivers make when using these systems and what factors could have an
effect on their behaviour.
One issue highlighted by the research is that while individuals are able to follow
a single simple instruction without any impact on their driving, when directions
become more complex with two or more sequential statements, this has an
immediate impact in their abilities behind the wheel.
Dr Polly Dalton, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, said:
"A lot of effort has gone into designing visually friendly satnav devices but our
research highlights the importance of the way in which the auditory instructions
This may be a vitally important area for satnav manufacturers to focus on, as it
is the primary method of using the system for the majority of people, with three-
quarters of participants saying they only use the visual directions for clarification
or as a reminder of the spoken instructions.
Earlier this year, the government hosted a summit with satnav makers to discuss
how the quality of directions offered can be improved.
This may be especially important to truck drivers, who could be guided down
roads that are too narrow for their vehicles or under low bridges by inadequate or