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Cell phones get a bad rap when the issue of distracted driving comes up, but when not used properly, GPS and Navigation systems can be just as distracting as phones. Have you ever tried to reroute your trip while driving? Even if you use voice input, miss-heard words and bad routing can take your attention off the road for a significant amount of time.

“Okay Google, navigate to the nearest Truck Stop.”
“Sure, purchasing Modernist Dust Mop.”
“Wait. NO!”

“But aren’t these navigation devices better than those folded paper maps that obscure vision and irritate the driver?” Yes, if they are used properly. Here are a few things to consider.

Plan your trip before you drive. Set your route and familiarize yourself with roads and turns before you start your trip. Look over road names, towns, and landmarks that help you determine where you are on your route. Don’t forget to explore construction zones and low clearance bridges and know when to avoid them.

Place your Navigation system where you can see it. While you shouldn’t have to look at the screen often, place your navigation system where you do not have to divert your eyes too far from the front windshield. If you need more than a quick glance at the screen, it is time to find a place to pull over to study the directions more thoroughly.

Pull over to change routes. Sometimes we need to alter our routes to find fuel or rest rooms. If you must change something in your navigation system, have your passenger make that change or safely pull over to do so yourself.

Follow marked detour routes. When your planned route has an unexpected detour, carefully follow the detour signs. Look specifically for truck detour signs since many RVs are large and need larger roads. If you are uncertain about how to proceed because of a temporary detour, find a safe place to stop and then find an alternate route on your device.

A final note about electronic navigation. You are in control of the device – it does not control you. Don’t let the device over run your common sense. Never proceed down a route of which you are uncertain. Dirt roads and “Dead End” signs are sure clues you should reevaluate your options. If you have ever encountered these situations, you are aware of the need for pre-planning.

Links for Further Study:

National Safety Council Distracted Driving Research

National Safety Council Passenger Safety rights

National Safety Council White Paper on Distracted Driving