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GPS racers

29th July 2011 Print

Sainsbury's Car Insurance extends a serious warning to motorists tempted by the "fun" side of their Global Positioning System (GPS) while they're on the move. The supermarket bank's new research reveals that, in the last year, 7.2 million drivers have raced to a destination to beat the predicted arrival time on their vehicle's GPS..

After entering their destination in their vehicle's TomTom or Garmin, for example, drivers are presented with an estimated time of arrival which millions frantically try to beat once on the road.  Sainsbury's Car Insurance has dubbed these individuals ‘GPS racers,' involved in a potentially dangerous new driving game.

Given the popularity of new driving technology, millions of people now rely on their vehicle's GPS system to navigate their way, even for relatively short journeys.  However there is a danger that some drivers may adopt risky driving behaviours, even subconsciously, when trying to 'beat' the original predicted time of arrival on their GPS clock.     

Almost 3.6 million motorists admitted to breaking the speed limit when racing against their GPS to reach their destination in the last 12 months.  A further 322,000 drivers admitted to overtaking when prohibited from doing so and 241,000 have tailgated other vehicles in an attempt to save time.  Shockingly, over 161,000 drivers have flashed their lights or gesticulated at other drivers to try and get them to speed up so they could race to their destination.   

Ben Tyte, Head of Car Insurance, Sainsbury's Finance said: "Our research shows a worrying trend of drivers racing against the projected arrival time set by their GPS systems. Used correctly GPS units are a fantastic invention that help drivers navigate effectively and concentrate on the road far more than when using maps or printed directions.  However, we are encouraging drivers using this new driving technology to have the safety of any passengers, other road users and pedestrians at the forefront of their minds and not be tempted to become GPS racers."

The findings also reveal some staggering behaviours with 1.2 million GPS racers admitting to having  driven through amber lights changing to red.  These drivers are even prepared to race across roundabouts and crossroads with over 570,000 admitting they did not slow down appropriately for these junctions.

Sainsbury's Car Insurance's research reveals that in some extreme cases, the driving behaviours of GPS racers have resulted in collisions and crashes.  Over 144,000 GPS racers admit to having being involved in a collision with another vehicle or hitting a parked car in the last 12 months.  A further 216,000 motorists have hit the curb while driving erratically and dangerously.  These driving habits resulted in 1.1 million passengers and drivers having arguments and heated exchanges.

Risky behaviours displayed by GPS racers

Exceeding the speed limit (51%)
Driving through amber lights as they change to red (17%)
Driving too quickly on approach to a crossroads or roundabout (8%)
Undertaking or overtaking when not permitted (5%)
Tailgating other vehicles (3%)
Trying to get other drivers to speed up by gesticulating or flashing lights (2%)
Approaching a pedestrian crossing too quickly (1%)
Stopping in a box junction in queuing traffic (1%)

Regional findings

More residents of the Yorks and Humber region admit to GPS racing than any other area of the country, while residents of the North East were the least likely to race against the clock on GPS systems.