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N is for...

N is for... Navigation!


What types of navigation are there?

Sat nav

Following road signs

Following a road map


It's important that we teach you how to use a sat nav, and how to follow road signs. Not only are both of these on the driving test, but they are skills that you will be using once you pass your test.


Using a sat nav may take the stress out of your journey - it helps with route planning, and most new sat navs and phone maps can tell you where traffic is, accidents, road works and closures are, can find alternative routes, car parks, fuel stations, attractions, and other local landmarks.


Sat Nav

What is it?

A sat nav is a small screen/unit which you can place on your dashboard in your car. It gives you directions, lane choices, times, distance to the next junction, distance to your destination, etc.


Some people choose to use their phone as a sat nav, which works in the same way.

Some vehicles have sat navs fitted into the dashboard of their vehicle, which also works in the same way.


Here are two examples;

Sat nav unit

Red - Zoom in & out

Orange - More settings

Green - Distance to next junction, and which way to turn at the next junction

Purple - Route that you are going

Yellow - Current speed limit, and speed you are going

Blue - Estimated time of arrival at your destination, and distance left until your destination



Google maps on your phone

Red - Current direction, and next direction

Green - Where you are, and your route to take

Yellow - Estimated time of arrival at your destination, and distance to your destination

Orange - Change whether you want the sat nav to speak and tell you each direction, or whether you would prefer the sat nav not to speak










Benefits of using a sat nav

- Helps you plan your journey beforehand

- Tells you where to go throughout your journey

- Will re-direct you if there is a road closure or if you take a wrong turn

- Talks to you, so you have visual and audio clues

- Repeats directions nearer the junction/roundabout/etc.


Risks of using a sat nav

- Can be distracting if you're trying to concentrate on the road and sat nav at the same time

- You may be tempted to touch/program the sat nav which is illegal, and could cause you to lose control of the car

- The battery may die half way through your journey if not plugged in

- May not be up to date


How to use a sat nav

- You should not touch the sat nav whilst driving as it's illegal if you lose control of the vehicle whilst doing so - therefore you should program a route before you start your journey

- Program in a postcode or road name, or use a destination from your 'recent destinations' list

- Make sure your sat nav is plugged in so it doesn't die on your journey

- If you need to reprogram the sat nav, pull over in a safe place to do so

- If you take a wrong turning, that's ok! Let the sat nav re-route, and continue to follow it. If you're lost, find a safe place to pull over so you can have a proper look at the sat nav map


Do we trust the sat nav?

Speed - Sometimes the speed limit on the sat nav, can be different to the actual speed limit on the road. Sometimes speed limits are changed, and the sat nav doesn't always update the speed limit. Be aware of your surroundings - if there's a school, with lots of children around, and your sat nav says 60mph... would you trust it?

Directions - Trust your instinct and trust what you can see on the road. If your sat nav is trying to get you to turn left through a no entry sign... would you go through it?

Up to date - if your sat nav isn't up to date, it could give you wrong directions, may not have new roads on the sat nav, and may not be aware of new signs, roads, speed limits etc - which links into the above.


Following road signs

What does this mean?

This is where we follow road signs to places. There are different types of road signs.


Blue - motorway or information signs

Green - primary/main routes

White - non-primary/local routes

Yellow - road works/diversions

Brown - tourist attractions

Black - large goods vehicle information


Benefits of following road signs

- Road signs will often give us more local information than a sat nav

- Some road signs may tell you which lane to choose

- Road signs will have more accurate information displayed


Risks of following road signs

- May miss them, you can't go back and look again

- May be covered by trees/bushes, may fade over time, or may have been defaced


If you miss a sign, you should look for other signs, and pull over if need be to check Google maps on your phone, or ask a passer by for directions.


Following a road map

What does this mean?

This is where we follow a paper road map. They usually come in booklets and can be purchased from shops/online. They aren't as popular anymore, and can be confusing to use! Following a road map isn't used on test, however we wanted to include it!


Benefits of following a road map

- Could use a passenger to help you

- Could help you concentrate whilst you drive and they navigate - however that depends how good at map reading they are! It could end up more of a distraction!

- Doesn't use or rely on technology - your map won't 'die'!


Risks of following a road map

- May be smaller/hard to see

- May not be up to date

- Can't read the map on the move - may have to pull over every time you get lost


What happens on the driving test?

For 1 in 5 tests, you will be expected to follow road signs.

For 4 in 5 tests, you will be expected to follow the sat nav unit.


This is called the 'independent driving' section of the driving test, which lasts for around 20 minutes.


The examiners guidance for independent driving says;

It is important that the candidate is left in no doubt what is required in the independent driving section of the test. There are two methods of independent driving, following directions given by a Satnav or following traffic signs. The examiner should pull the candidate up on the left and clearly brief the method required. If you are aware a candidate has dyslexia or dyspraxia and you have established it affects their driving, choose an independent driving section that is best suited to their needs


What happens if I go the wrong way on my test?

It's important to know that your examiner isn't testing your directional skills - they are testing how safe your driving ability is. Therefore if you go the wrong way, it's not an issue - as long as you do it safely.


Look at the difference between these two scenarios;

1. You have been asked to go right 3rd exit at the roundabout. You end up in the left hand lane, and decide to take the 3rd exit, using the left hand lane to go round the roundabout.


2. You have been asked to go right 3rd exit at the roundabout. You end up in the left hand lane, and decide to go left 1st exit because you're in the left lane, and you know you can't go right from the left lane.


I'm sure we can agree that the first scenario would be unsafe, as you're using the wrong lane to take the 3rd exit. However the second scenario would be completely safe - because you've taken the exit from the correct lane. In the first scenario, you would fail your driving test based on your road positioning and safety. However in the second scenario, you wouldn't fail, because you stayed safe - as long as you checked your mirrors, had the correct signal on, etc.


The examiner will re-direct you back to the test route.


We hope you find this information useful!

Next week we're looking at... Overtaking!

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