30 November 2008

Satnavs and human behaviour

This weekends' FT Magazine includes an article on the impact of satnav devices (apparently in the UK 35% of vehicles have either built in or portable satnavs, more than anywhere else in Europe, more even than the 33% in Japan). The article includes some incredible (literally) reports of peoples' dogged adherence to their satnav's instructions, even when it leads them on to a level crossing or through an impassable ford.

The FT asks why people ignore external cues (signs saying a ford is too deep, the look and feel of a level crossing gate) to follow their satnav's instructions (especially when drivers are so ready to dispute navigators' instructions). Tom Stewart of Systems Concepts comments that people become fixed in a pattern of behaviour, following the satnav's instructions to extremes; he makes a parallel with people's use of calculators for simple sums. There may be something in this but I also think there is an element of drivers over-estimating their safety once cocooned in their cars, similar to the (not undisputed) effect wearing seatbelts has on the safety of drivers' behaviour.

No comments:

Post a Comment