Gone are the days when we’d whip out the map from the glove box and argue with the passenger about the optimum route to take. Today, we rely on our satnavs to get us where we need to go and these nifty devices help us to navigate new places, avoid heavy traffic and keep informed of the speed limit.
In recognition of the importance of satnav driving, the DVSA changed the practical driving test in 2017 to incorporate the device. When learners attend their driving test, a portion of their drive will be solely guided by a satnav, testing their ability to drive alone on unfamiliar roads.
If you’re qualified or training to be a driving instructor, you’ll now have to prepare your students for this change, and in this article, we’ll advise you on the best practice for doing just that.
Set it up correctly
Now, this might seem obvious, but the placement of the satnav on the dashboard is critical. If your car doesn’t have an in-built screen, then you’ll want to make sure that the device is positioned so that your student can see it easily, but does not obscure their view of the road.
It’s important to remind your student that if a satnav does block their vision of the road, this could result in them acquiring three penalty points, a fine, or even a driving ban. Because of this, it’s vital that they understand the importance of placing the satnav correctly within the vehicle from the get-go.
Use it consistently
Before the lesson begins, it’s likely that you’ve drawn up a lesson plan for your student, to help to work on their weaknesses, as well as including some general driving, manoeuvres and theoretical practice. However, you should also dedicate a section of most lessons to satnav driving, so that your student can regularly experience what it’s like to be guided by the device, rather than your own instruction.
If your student is lucky enough to have their own vehicle to practice in and they’re a confident driver, you should encourage them to drive with a satnav independently (albeit with someone in the car according to the government rules). This will help them to become comfortable using their own device and setting it up correctly in their vehicle.
Teach them to listen, but not rely on the device
Of course, the satnav is an intelligent piece of tech and nine times out of 10 will get you where you need to go without a hitch. However, sometimes there may be road closures that the satnav may be unaware of, or hazards in the road that prevent you from taking that route. With this in mind, your student will need to learn to listen to the satnav but also use their own initiative.
Although the satnav is your student’s guide to their destination, you need to remind them that they can’t let it divert their attention from the road ahead. There’s a reason the satnav talks and doesn’t just display a route on screen. Screens are distracting, and you should teach your student to look at the screen briefly if they need to, but mainly rely on the verbal instructions that it provides.
Your students are likely to be young, tech-savvy individuals, so they’ll probably take to satnav driving like a duck to water. However, it’s important that you incorporate a satnav-guided drive into the majority of your lessons, so that your students are best prepared for their practical test.