GPS improves road safety

Personal navigation devices have linked to a 12 per cent decrease in damage incidents

New research has revealed that the use of Personal Navigation Devices (PND), such as GPS mapping devices, could reduce crash risk and have a positive effect on driver safety.

From data collected on 115,197 drivers of rental cars in the Netherlands in the second half of 2006, researchers from Dutch science and technology think-tank, TNO, found that cars fitted with PNDs had a 12 per cent lower rate of damage incidents when compared to cars without PNDs.

Drivers using PNDs experienced an average of 25 per cent less stops and 35 per cent less time standing still on the road. Driving distances with PNDs were found to be reduced by 16 per cent and travel time by 18 per cent, resulting in an overall reduction of fuel costs.

When TNO surveyed the participating drivers, results revealed that 78 per cent of drivers felt more alert and in control with a navigation system than without. Researchers also found that drivers using PNDs displayed behaviour that was only half as aggressive as those without the device.

Stress when driving with a PND was found to be reduced by 20 per cent, as drivers reported exerting 'little effort' to navigate unfamiliar territory with PNDs, compared with 'fair' to 'considerable' stress experienced using conventional navigation resources, such as static road maps.

The research was co-commissioned by PND vendor TomTom and Dutch insurance company Delta Lloyd, and results have now lead Delta Lloyd to offer TomTom product owners a 10 per cent discount on their Delta Lloyd auto insurance.

But Australian insurance company AAMI is sceptical.

"It is difficult to say whether PND/GPS devices have the potential to improve driver safety," said Christine Elmer, national public relations manager of AAMI. "Certainly, we have heard the opposite case put [by other media reports] - that satellite navigation devices have contributed to crashes due to inaccurate or incorrect information being given to the driver."

Associate professor Michael Regan of the Monash University Accident Research Centre agrees that the use of PNDs has its pros and cons. While several separate studies have proven that PNDs are beneficial in unfamiliar territories as they reduce both travel distance and cognitive workload, Regan said, poorly designed PNDs can also be a distraction to drivers.

"We know that if people fixate on objects or activities going on in the car for more than a second and a half, their risk of crashing increases by about four or five times," Regan said, noting on the other hand that "even a badly designed navigation system probably won't distract you much more than a paper map."

Well-designed PNDs have three critical characteristics, Regan said, including: convenient positioning in the cockpit to encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the road; a 'lock out' function that only allows the device to be operated when the car is at a standstill, so drivers don't play with the devices while driving; and voice instructions rather than complicated visual maps.

"Provided they're well designed, they [PNDs] have excellent potential to improve driving performance and to reduce crash risk," he concluded.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Liz Tay

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?