GPS units lead driv­ers to dan­ger

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

DRIV­ING with a GPS unit in your car can be a safety haz­ard. Too many peo­ple place them wrongly and com­pro­mise their view of the road, and new re­search from AAMI says they are also a se­ri­ous dis­trac­tion.

‘‘Th­ese de­vices are in­tended to re­move the dis­trac­tion of a driver hav­ing to read a map or nav­i­gate un­known roads, but there is some irony that for one in seven driv­ers, the tech­nol­ogy is tak­ing their at­ten­tion from the task at hand,’’ Mike Sopin­ski of AAMI says. ‘‘Driv­ers fail­ing or for­get­ting to in­put their des­ti­na­tion into their nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem be­fore de­part­ing and those who fol­low GPS di­rec­tions in­dis­crim­i­nately may ex­plain why so many driv­ers who rely on GPS get dis­tracted.

‘‘In many ways, tech­nol­ogy is a bonus for driv­ers, but they also need to em­ploy their own com­mon sense, as a com­ple­ment to the equip­ment, to en­sure they’re not putting them­selves or other driv­ers at risk.’’

The AAMI re­search shows men are more at risk — 17 per cent against 12 per cent of women — partly be­cause they like to fid­dle and change set­tings.

And GPS units are not the only grow­ing dis­trac­tion.

AAMI’s re­search shows MP3 play­ers and high-pow­ered stereos can be a prob­lem.

‘‘Na­tion­ally, 12 per cent of driv­ers say they have be­come dis­tracted while us­ing their MP3 player, and a whop­ping 42 per cent say they have lost con­cen­tra­tion while us­ing more old-school tech­nol­ogy, such as chang­ing a CD, tape or ra­dio sta­tion while be­hind the wheel,’’ Sopin­ski says.

MP3 play­ers can tempt driv­ers to shuf­fle through mu­sic when they should be con­cen­trat­ing.

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