Top tips on saving yourself from a sat nav disaster this season
Depending on who you ask, satellite navigation systems (‘sat navs’) are either ingenious devices worth their weight in gold, or they’re the scourge of motoring today. But love them or hate them, there’s no denying their pivotal role in cross-country travel during the Christmas season - whether you’re driving for work and shipping goods or products across counties, or you’re driving on a personal basis to go and see friends or family for the big day itself.
Now, these days a lot of cars use integrated sat navs in the form of ‘infotainment’ systems on their dashboard - including many of the cars for hire you’ll find here at Intack Self Drive. But if you’ve got yourself a standalone sat nav and you’re planning on using it for any long-haul journeys in the next few weeks (driving home for Christmas or otherwise), here are our top tips to make sure you get the most out of it, saving yourself any unnecessary journeys or detours.
Place and secure your sat nav properly
Let’s start with the most crucial safety point first. Although sat navs are actively helping you while you’re out on the roads, they’re still subject to most of the same rules as any mobile device (especially if they’re in the form of actual mobile phones).
That means you can’t manipulate or adjust them while you’re driving, and they must be properly secured and pose minimal obstruction to your vision. Otherwise, you’ll potentially be landed with a hefty fine.
Specifically, sat navs must be mounted to a holder or windscreen mount in order to be properly legal, and yours shouldn’t be placed in the middle of the windscreen, as it runs the risk of blocking your nearside view. That could be particularly dangerous at left hand bends, junctions and crossings. And speaking of positioning your sat nav, make sure not to fit it in a place that can potentially cause injury, such as potential head strike zones on the windscreen.
To be honest, there’s an easy way to avoid all the deduction involved here, and that’s to just place it in the bottom right hand corner of your windscreen, where it’s universally agreed to be the safest. And it’s worth reiterating - don’t forget to make sure it’s properly secure!
Double check your destination
It might sound almost so silly as to not be worth mentioning - but that’s exactly why it is! It can be easier than you might think to incorrectly set your destination incorrectly in your sat nav - especially if it’s, say, very early in the morning or very late at night. In one notorious case, a Syrian lorry driver learned this the hard way after he drove to Gibraltar to deliver his goods. Unfortunately he ended up in Gibraltar Point, in Skegness - about 1600 miles away from his actual destination of Gibraltar, i.e. the island just south of Spain.
Most sat nav mistakes are rather more small-scale, but they can be no less irritating. All sorts of locations have identical place names in the UK, so it’s always worth double-checking the postcode and every tiny little detail before you set off. You might not get confused between Stamford Bridge in London versus Stamford Bridge in York, but if you’re based in the North West like us then you might end up going some distance down the country towards Gillingham in Dorset before you realise you only want to go as far as Gillingham in Kent.
Those are just town names - that’s to say nothing of the names of individual streets. Roads in multiple major cities share common names like Nottingham Road, or Oxford Street. It might not be enough to completely derail your journey, but it could well be sufficient to cause you an extra hour or so of unnecessary driving. Trust us - it’s always worth double checking, especially when you need to return a hire car or hire van to the city you rented it from!
Be wary of terrain
We’ve all heard stories of it going wrong for drivers who’ve confused rivers for roads, or driven blindly onto train crossings. And be honest - you thought “that’ll never be me”, didn’t you? Well, once again, it might be easier than you think!
Of course, while your basic common sense will help you avoid ending up as a similar story, it can still be annoyingly easy to end up at the side of a stream when your sat nav thinks it’s a road (even if you’re not about to actually plunge your large car into it). In other words, you’re often in less danger of getting your car in an obviously precarious position than you are of simply getting inconvenienced (or at worst, trapped) by unexpected rivers, railroads or floods.
Thankfully, most sat navs are clearer about the difference between roads and terrain these days, but they won’t help you predict floods or other weather events - so as well as keeping an eye on your sat nav, watch out for road signs too. They’ll be able to give you a better warning about steep drops and roads liable to flooding. Nobody wants to get boxed in on a submerged road after dark on Christmas Eve, with family waiting for them miles away!
Again, when it comes right down to it a lot of our advice here comes down to common sense, which you’ve got plenty of already. What you may not have, though, is a set of wheels to get you where you need to go, and that’s where we come in here at Intack Self Drive.
If you’re looking to hire a car, van or minibus for an upcoming journey, you’re in exactly the right place. We offer short-term, long-term and Flexi-hire services at competitive rates, and with around half a century of experience, you can trust us to understand your needs and circumstances whether you’re a private customer or commercial driver. Feel free to visit our Blackburn depot, or get in touch by giving us a call on 01254 57811, and we’ll be happy to help.