NRMA: GPS Units Can Be A Dangerous Distraction

Mike Stevens | Jul 30, 2010

A new study by insurer NRMA has found that without proper consideration for positioning and usage, GPS navigation units can be a dangerous distraction for motorists.

Testing six drivers over an unfamiliar 35 kilometre route, the study found that each person glanced at their GPS unit around 90 times for an average of 1.2 seconds.

The results show that, travelling at 60km/h an hour, the participants were looking away from the road at up to 19 metres at a time, or more than four car lengths.

"We want to make drivers aware of the risks of combining another task with driving. In-car distractions like eating, drinking or using a GPS device encourage the driver to take their eyes off the road. Losing focus for one second while at the wheel puts you at higher risk of having a collision," NRMA Insurance spokesperson Robert McDonald said.

"Drivers should learn to rely on the voice directions rather than looking at the map, it’s too distracting to be repeatedly looking at the screen while staying aware of the road and the other cars around you."

NRMA researchers also tested different mounting positions for the GPS devices, finding the lower right-hand corner of the windscreen to cause the smallest blind spot for the driver.

One of the more common positions - close to the dash, directly beneath the centre mirror - proved to be the least safe, blocking the driver's field of view.

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Filed under: Safety, road safety, nrma, gps, research, navigation, study, News, survey

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  • DM says,
    5 years ago
    1 like
    "...the participants were looking away from the road at up to 19 metres at a time, or more than four car lengths" Sounds about the same amount of time the average Victorian has to look at their Speedo these days to make sure their needle hasnt moved an extra millimetre. 1mm movement of that little needle can change you from good citizen to menacing baby eating killer hoon!!! Yet the NRMA hasnt performed a study on this. How strange!
  • Liam From Canberra says,
    5 years ago
    Good point.

    Although, to be fair, I'm pretty sure NRMA have, in the past, criticised the over use of speed cameras etc.
  • says,
    5 years ago
    If they say that GPS are a distraction...What about all the advertising billboard along the side of roads and freeways ..dont you think there distracting as people take there eyes off the road to read them....but is it all to do with money ?
  • Howdy says,
    5 years ago
    And what about the distraction of looking for a sign post and often the panic that ensues when they are often lacking.
    This is especially true at night.
    And what about not too long ago when drivers(taxi in particular) balanced the directory on the dash or lap
    In the real world I bet GPS is far safer in comparison to no GPS days.
    Why not test that NRMA.You have to wonder?
  • My Cars Called T-Rex says,
    5 years ago
    Following someone who navagating by GPS is also dangerous because they don't know were there going and are more likely to cut across lanes because of the GPS which changes the route.When i see that little blue screen attached to the wind screen i treat them like Leaner divers,just to be safe.