Study to find safety of sat navs

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British university researchers are to study whether satellite navigators can prove a major cause of car accidents.

Drivers will be asked to carry out computer-based tasks that imitate the demands of a typical in-car navigation system.

The types of information drivers receive will be assessed along with the responses motorists are required to make when using the system.

A Lancaster University team will work with University of London psychologists to conduct the study.

Lancaster University's Dr Pragya Agarwal said: "There is little research on the impacts of sat navs on spatial attention and memory while undertaking a complex task such as driving.

"Although sat nav makers have claimed that such technology aids driving behaviour, we are interested in finding out accurate measurements for how much driving performance and memory of routes worsens while using a sat nav."

She added that they wanted to examine whether the current sat nav method of using visual displays and audio instructions was the "best and safest" way to inform drivers.

"With the increasing reliance on technology for navigation, it is important that such technology is designed so that it supports rather than detracts us from our primary task of driving," Ms Agarwal said.

© Press Association 2010

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