Do Young Drivers Rely on Sat Navs?

Do Young Drivers Rely on Sat Navs?

With most new cars coming with a sat nav, we looked at whether young drivers especially are relying on them too much and suffering from a knowledge gap.


New research conducted by us here at Peter Vardy has found that many drivers rely too much on sat navs, to the point that their road knowledge is growing worse. From our study, for example, we discovered that a shockingly high 89% of British drivers can’t name the roads they use daily.

While sat navs provide many benefits such as being able to inform drivers of traffic jams, calculate the fastest route and make navigation effortless, an over reliance on the technology is leading to a knowledge gap, especially for new young drivers. We asked just over 2,500 UK drivers a range of questions and to complete a simple geography test of British cities, which led to the following results.


Sat Nav Reliance

According to our survey results, 76% of drivers use a sat nav for their car journeys, ditching the traditional map book. Of all drivers, there was a clear difference between age groups, with 85% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they use sat nav when behind the wheel.

This is significantly higher than the national average and indicates a greater reliance on technology, especially when compared to the older generation. Just over a third (35%) of drivers in the 65+ age range said that they don’t use a sat nav to get around, instead relying on their road knowledge and map reading abilities.


Estimating London to Edinburgh Journey Time

We also asked participants in the survey how long they thought it would take to drive from Edinburgh to London (without checking). According to Google Maps the 403-mile journey takes seven hours and 41 minutes via the A1 and M1. However, only 30% of respondents answered correctly between seven and eight hours.

Somewhat surprisingly, it was those in the 18 to 24 and 54 to 65-year-old categories that had the joint highest percentage of drivers (38%) correctly answering between seven and eight hours for the journey. So, while young drivers may struggle with local road knowledge, their understanding of further distances doesn’t appear to be as impaired by sat nav usage.  


Locating Famous Cities

Finally, we tasked respondents with naming ten big UK cities on an unmarked map of the country to assess how good their geography knowledge was without using a sat nav. Incredibly only 14% of drivers could pass the test by correctly naming all ten cities.

The results threw up a number of common confusions, with nearly half of all people mistaking Birmingham with Leicester and London, and Sheffield with Nottingham. There were a few harder to understand mistakes, such as the respondents who named Nottingham as Peterborough, Edinburgh as Newcastle, Glasgow with Inverness and Carlisle and London with Bath. Some of those aren’t even in the same country!

Overall, the fact that such a high proportion of young drivers rely on a sat nav, fail to name the roads they drive on daily and point out the biggest cities in the UK on a map suggests that technology is having a damaging effect on young drivers’ road knowledge.