Just like mobile phones and laptops, GPS has become an essential part of our daily lives. Increasingly, people are relying on that little box perched on the dashboard of their car to get from A to B. Around 10% of all cars in the USA have inbuilt navigation systems or shop-bought devices installed in them.Driver distraction plays a part in 30% of all car crashes in the country. All too often, these accidents make the news. In May 2011, a New Jersey man drove his car into a house and injured two people after the GPS system in his car failed to spot the end of a road. Our guide is here to help you to stay safe when using GPS, and to make sure you don’t hit the headlines like the unlucky guy above!
Test Out Different Models
Before you make a firm decision to buy, make sure you do a bit of market research. You might be best suited to a voice-activated model or one which gives you real-time traffic updates. Ask your friends and family about what they use, and weigh up the pros and cons.
Read The Handbook
How many times do we read the manual when we buy a TV or microwave? Probably never, right? But the fact is that many people are confused by their new GPS, and they use it incorrectly for months or even years after they bought it. Make sure you know how to use your device properly before setting out on any long journeys. Keep the manual handy in the glove compartment, so you can sort out any problems you have quickly.
Don’t Use On The Move
Your reaction time doubles when texting or altering a sat-nav whilst driving, according to a study by the Texas Transport Institute. Not texting or using a sat-nav means a reaction time of between one and two seconds, which increases to three or four when there are distractions. The solution is simple: don’t turn on your GPS until you really need to use it. Once you start to become unfamiliar with the route, find somewhere to pull over, enter your destination and then carry on with your journey.
Keep A Map Handy
Always have a map handy as a back up to your sat-nav. We’ve all had that moment when our GPS wants us to take an unexpected turning or tells us we are going the wrong way. If that happens pull over and have a look at the map, as well as any road signs. That will stop you from becoming complacent and only realising you’ve gone in totally the wrong direction when it’s too late!
Speed Camera: Don’t Panic!
An increasing number of GPS devices can detect nearby speed cameras. This can help you avoid fines, but can also cause you to slam on your brakes in panic, increasing the risk of a pile-up! Keep an eye out for cameras, as well as checking your speedometer regularly.
Keep Away From Kids
Kids love getting their sticky little hands on any flashing gadgets. Your GPS isn’t a toy: keep it safely stored away from any mischief makers. Children have a handy knack of messing things up and then not being able to explain how they broke them. Grrr!
If you’re planning on using your GPS when driving abroad, make sure it is compatible. Finding your way around in a foreign country can be a daunting experience, so you need a navigation device which works properly. Check the manual to see which countries it can be used in.
Lock It Up
It’s also worth remembering that navigation systems are easy pickings for thieves, so take them with you when you arrive home. It might be a good idea to buy a locker to store your GPS along with other gadgets.
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to GPS safety. The next time you’re heading out on a journey, keep it in mind! This has been a guest post by James Archer, on behalf of The Safe Shop, an online retailer of safes and secure lockers.