Kate Simon: Sat-navs are the route to holiday happiness

We've become "dangerously dependent" on GPS sat-nav systems, the Royal Academy of Engineering warned in a report last week. And, it added, if the problem isn't tackled it could result in "loss of life".

From weather hazards to interference, satellite signals are more vulnerable than we realise, according to the RAE. It maintains that even subtle errors could have calamitous consequences. For example, ships and planes could be sent perilously off course.

Dr Martyn Lewis, chair of the group that wrote the report, told the BBC: "There is a growing interdependence between systems that people think are backing each other up."

His organisation wants to raise awareness of the need to put adequate back-up systems in place, to see a change in the law that would make the possession of jammers illegal, and to win government support for development of hardware solutions.

How easily we accept new technology into our everyday lives. It seems the convenience offered by the latest invention outweighs our need to give much thought to troublesome questions such as safety and security.

It's certainly hard to imagine a world without car sat-navs now. Within a few short years they've become a familiar sight on every other windscreen. I surely love my sat-nav, not least because it has brought peace to our family car.

Thanks largely to my quick temper, I've spent far too many holidays having screaming rows with my partner about who should have realised we needed to take the previous turning. Now it's just a case of punch in the postcode and off we harmoniously go.

What's more, it has increased my confidence, as the sole driver in the family, to get behind the wheel when abroad. Taking the stress of map-reading in a foreign language out of the equation has smoothed our way around France, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Last year, when my family was stranded by the ash cloud in Portugal, I got a reminder of the bad old days of following the printed map.

We joined up with a few other hotel guests to share the journey back to the UK in a people-carrier. But the lead driver wouldn't countenance using a sat-nav and guided us home with an elaborate system of notes and maps.

This meant he had to remain awake for the whole journey to direct each driver, and when it came to his turn to drive, he spent an alarming amount of time with his eyes off the road studying his directions (at night, through the Basque mountains).

Now the genie's out of the bottle, car sat-navs are here to stay. But the RAE's report is a timely reminder that while we should embrace technological developments, we should treat them a little less like miracles.

Do you have a travel issue?

Email: sundaytravel@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Voices
Björt Ólafsdóttir is a member of Iceland's Bright Future party
voicesIceland's Björt Ólafsdóttir on her decision to take part in #FreeTheNipple
Life and Style
The Clove Club will charge customers when they book
food + drink
News
Lapping it up: a woman feeds felines at a cat café in Japan
newsThe vast majority of cat and dog 'wet foods' contain items not specified on the tin, study finds
Sport
Andros Townsend and Paul Merson
football
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat