Me Navman, you Jane

8th January, 2009

Last year I became the owner of a sat nav. I didn’t buy it for myself, it was a birthday present. Though I’m bound to wonder why my family think I might need electronic navigational guidance from the sky… after all, I’m a bloke therefore surely it follows that I can read a map and I will have an instinctive sense of direction…?

Of course not and once again there’s a market survey report as evidence. In fact the survey of 1,000 drivers by Esure car insurance showed that more than a third cannot read a basic road map. In fact, over 80% did not recognise that blue-coloured roads on maps were motorways. And just to be clear, the survey results showed fairly equal skills (or non-skills) between the sexes.

So it would seem this really is the age of TomTom or Nav (Wo)man. On top of the 16 per cent who no longer keep a map in their car, more than 60% do not keep up to date maps.

It’s unsurprising perhaps that about three in five also say that they could not live without their sat nav.

Now this is where I’m different, because I can live without mine. Or ‘Jane’ as she is affectionately known…

Because one thing about Jane over previous versions of map reading assistants I’ve had is that Jane comes with an ‘off’ button. Not that I could tire of her voice, just the opposite actually… she’s just too polite, which can be frustrating.

Sometimes I miss a turning. And more often than is acceptable, Jane is just not as clued up about the local routes as I am. In either case, Jane will assume that it was me that went the wrong way. With unwavering composure and persistence will insist I turn around when possible.

There is no chance of having a good old row with Jane.

Presumably that’s why about 50 per cent of drivers say that their sat nav drives them mad at least once a month. I reckon it’s not because they get sent on wild goose chases but because drivers realize that they’re swearing at a computer and might as well be talking to a brick wall.

Wishing you all safe travels for 2009.