The Sat Nav: Life Before and After
Many of us remember life before the Sat Nav. Driving aided by a map caused more family arguments than anything else. Drivers constantly had to stop — or worse still — continued driving while studying a map. Map books were a regular Christmas gift as road improvements tended to be a regular occurrence, so even if they were just a year old they could still be out-of-date. Many people were driving in different countries, trying to follow road signs in an unfamiliar language, and not speaking that language meant asking for directions was not an option. Countries in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, provided extra problems as Polish pronunciations can be difficult to master.
The Sat Nav first became available for private vehicles around 1995. These systems were a revelation and soon became widely available. They were usually wired through the car’s electrical system, were expensive, and regular updating was costly. Despite this, they changed people’s lives for the better. Maps became a backup only, and the norm became calm journeys with the family— interspersed with hilarity at the Sat Nav voice. Listening to the pronunciation of foreign place names with an accent from the country of origin was very funny, and indeed still is!
One of the biggest problems with the early Sat Nav was the time it took to redirect when a wrong turning was taken — sometimes up to five or more minutes, by which time if stopping was not an option, then being totally lost certainly was. Today’s Sat Nav is a thing of beauty. It can be pre-installed in a vehicle, or bought as a portable device and fixed to the windshield by a suction pad. Updating takes seconds, and many come with a free lifetime map-update on the Internet. Driving in Poland, or any other country in the world, is now a much simpler task as direction arrows are clearly marked on the screen.
However, one problem which appears insurmountable is obstacles such as narrow roads, low tunnels and bridges. These can often make the use of a Sat Nav hazardous for large vehicles such as trucks and motor-homes, especially in Europe. Motoring life with today’s Sat Navs is amazing, and we now drive where formerly we wouldn’t have dared. However, as nothing is ever absolutely perfect, most of us still carry maps in the trunk — just in case.
Want to know my favorite scenic drive? Yellowstone National Park is one of highlights of our summer vacation last year! Click HERE to see more of my wonderful pictures from my drive there.