According to a new study, motorists who rely on computer navigation devices do in fact “switch off” part of their brain in the process.
A University College London team took 24 volunteers on a two-hour walking tour of Soho, then asked them to “drive” a computer-simulated car through the area’s narrow streets the following day. They detected spikes of activity in two key areas of the brain, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, when the volunteers were forced to navigate for themselves. But where they relied on instructions from a Sat Nav, no activity above normal levels was detected.
So, how do lorry drivers fair? There are always plenty of articles in newspapers discussing how villages are under siege from giant lorries using narrow streets as a short cut, or driving the wrong way up the one way high street.
The Local Government Association (LGA) wants legislation brought in to make sure lorry drivers in England and Wales use a GPS system suitable for HGVs. It also wants councils to have the power to ensure drivers avoid routes where they exceed the weight or height limit. Commercial GPS systems designed for lorries include information on bridge heights and narrow roads. They also allow lorry drivers to enter their vehicle dimensions to ensure they are instructed to follow a suitable route. Police forces in Wales and Greater London already have the power to enforce weight and height restrictions on HGVs but councils are urging the government to roll this out across England. Some councils have been working with freight and haulage companies to ensure drivers are using the most suitable routes.
However, being unfamiliar with the area you are driving in is all too familiar for lorry drivers. Specialist Sat Navs may help to alleviate the problem but they can still misinterpret where they are going and send you somewhere that is completely incorrect and unsafe. Trying to then manoeuvre out of that predicament can be tricky at best, dangerous at worst. The bottom line is: lorry drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and rely on their instinct and driving ability rather than completely relying on a Sat Nav!