Sat Navs in Driving Tests; the Right Direction?

 In Ridley & Hall Solicitors, Road Traffic Accidents, Samantha Hirst

For many of us driving without a sat nav is difficult to imagine; 14 million motorists, half of the UK’s driving population, regularly use satellite navigation.  They provide clear advantages in helping drivers find the quickest route to their destination – but with over 300,000 accidents caused by them each year is it a good idea that the practical driving test should include use of a sat nav system, rather than focusing on observing road signs?

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency has suggested that the test should include a section on use of a satnav –as well as proposing that the three point turn should be scrapped. Any eventual changes would be subject to full public consultation.  A DVSA spokesman said, “We are carrying out initial research to explore how the driving test could better reflect real life driving.”  About 1,000 learners will take part in a trial of the new practical exam.  The Driving Instructors’ Association Chief Executive, Carly Brookfield, has welcomed the plans on the basis that, “It more realistically assesses a candidate’s ability to competently and safely manage road based risk and driving in real life, on real roads.”

However some experts are concerned about the introduction of sat navs into the practical test.  RAC foundation director, Professor Stephen Glaister, says, “We all rely on our sat navs but they are not infallible and it is when they have led us down a dead end that we need to know how to do a three point turn.  It’s fine to add some aspects to the test but we should be cautious about removing the basics.”

In 2008 a Mr Jones from Doncaster followed his sat nav which left him hanging over the end of a 100 foot cliff in Todmorden.  He was later charged by police for driving without due care and attention.  In 2011 a tragic case in Bolton resulted in a four year old girl being killed after her father crashed into another car when his sat nav wrongly told him to turn right at an accident black spot.

The potential tragic consequences of over reliance on a sat nav are a matter of concern to Sam Hirst, a paralegal specialising in road traffic accident claims at Ridley & Hall Solicitors in Huddersfield:-

“I regularly advise victims who have been injured in road traffic accidents and some of these accidents have been caused by drivers simply failing to pay attention to their surroundings. Recent research in Australia suggests that 15% of our driving time is taken up with activities such as eating, changing CD’s and putting on makeup! That said, I think that this new proposal is a step in the right direction in making the test more tailored to modern day driving, especially if learner drivers are taught about the danger of over reliance on technology and the skills to manage other distractions.”

Green Flag have issued a sat nav safety guide which has some useful tips on how to make travelling with a sat nav safer.

Sam is a paralegal in the Litigation team with experience in personal injury cases, with a particular interest in road traffic accidents. She is able to offer no win no fee agreements for accident claims.

Sam has seen many changes to the personal injury sector and has had to adapt quickly to these developments, both in law and in practice. She prides herself on providing an approachable, friendly service to clients and enjoys the challenge of pursuing cases for them.


Sam is passionate about cycling safety and has written news articles on the subject:

Death of Cyclist on a Yorkshire Road Caused by a Pothole

Tour de France; Improved Cycling Safety for Yorkshire?

For further information on how we can help with road traffic accidents, please contact Sam Hirst on 01484 538421 or via e-mail.