Are sat navs turning us into ‘zombie drivers’? Not surprisingly, mytaxi survey reckons so

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mytaxi driver office, Great Suffolk Street, London
London drivers are more reliant on sat navs than anywhere else in the UK – that’s the verdict of new study from black cab app mytaxi which suggests many of the capital’s motorists are rapidly turning into ‘zombie drivers wasting an average of 62 hours each year driving the wrong way round!

The new study, specially commissioned by the new black cab app mytaxi quizzed 2000 British drivers on their relationship with sat nav technology. Not surprisingly, given that mytaxi’s drivers have spent years doing ‘The Knowledge’, it found that a massive 88% of Londoners now use the devices, over ten per cent higher than the national average of 76%.

Moreover the study found that one in five (20%) Londoners admit they have lost the ability to navigate back home without the aid of a sat nav while a massive 65% feel they would be totally lost without the technology when embarking on unfamiliar journeys.

Most worryingly, 62% of the capital’s drivers who took part in the study admitted they completely switch off when following a sat nav, paying little attention to road signs or famous landmarks. This zombification has led to Londoners wasting a whopping 100 hours each year blindly following a sat nav the long way or wrong way to their destination, reckons mytaxi.

The study suggests that Londoners find it hard to escape the technology – 83% of capital dwellers regularly experience the use of sat navs when travelling as a passenger in a minicab. Moreover a whopping 62% of Londoners confess they find the use of sat navs by minicab drivers irritating while 25% specifically cited sat nav commentary as the thing that most annoys them when paying a fare to travel.

In order to highlight the problem, mytaxi has released a hidden-camera prank video – see below. For the video, a minicab was rigged with micro-cameras in an experiment to see how far Londoners would be prepared to travel with a satnav-obsessed driver. In the video tempers of passengers reached boiling point as the driver stubbornly followed the satnav despite their protestations.

Says Andy Jones, General Manager, UK, at mytaxi, which commissioned the research:

“Sat nav technology is undoubtedly a huge help to many people but it is certainly not flawless and the results can be both frustrating and comical, as evidenced by the huge number of misadventures we have recorded.

“We are proud to say that all mytaxi drivers have spent three years studying for The Knowledge memorising over 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks. There really is no substitute to real local knowledge when it comes to navigating through traffic and finding the quickest routes to a destination.”

Further findings revealed:

  • One in ten Londoners like a fish out of water when it comes to finding their own way, estimating they could only navigate a minute 3 miles away from their home without using the technology (11%).
  • Negotiating familiar streets even proves tricky for over a third of residents, with 35% confessing they need the help of a sat nav even on routes they have previously driven, higher than any other region in the UK.
  • Despite an apparent over-reliance on the tech, it’s not all sweetness and light for sat nav users in the capital. A massive 71% feel they have a love hate relationship with the devices, while 61% admit they often find the robotic route planners annoying.
  • More than one in ten (13%) feel that sat navs rarely take them on the fastest or shortest route and over a third (39%) find that sat navs never take them to the exact final destination.
  • The research also found London amongst the top three regions for technical mishaps. 42% of sat nav users report experiencing signal black outs, meaning they have to reset the device while en-route.
  • These sat gaffes have led 43% of Londoners to verbally disagree with a sat nav as if it were a real person, while 29% channel their tech rage by shouting at the gadgets. Some city drivers (3%) even admit to smashing a sat nav to smithereens following a technology blunder.
Chris Price