According to a recent police study, GPS satellite navigation systems have caused a spike in road accidents due to drivers paying attention to the guidance rather than the road. The study says GPS devices distract drivers in a similar way to mobile phones.

sat-Nav

New South Wales Police traffic boss John Hartley said in a recent News Ltd report that drivers who were confused about directions from such devices often caused accidents in trying to understand the guidance, instead of safely pulling over to double-check.

"In recent times, we have seen crashes and near misses involving drivers who rely only on the information provided by their GPS device," Mr Hartley said.

A spokeman from the RTA also gave some similar advice on the potential problem with GPS systems, saying in the same report,

"If you are unfamiliar with the road or unsure of where you are going, slow down and make sure you leave yourself enough time to indicate to other drivers if you need to turn or pull over."

In a recent test, a range of drivers were studied during the course of a 35km trip that involved the use of a GPS. The drivers were noted as looking at the device up to 90 times for an average time of 1.2 seconds. Some drivers have been known to pay a lot more attention to the device than that.

The report revealed last year a family travelling using a sat-nav system became lost for three days due to the system giving incorrect guidance, and the family relying so much on that guidance. CarAdvice also reported on a driver in the UK that was so transfixed by the sat-nav system directions that she drove her car into a lake.

It's an interesting topic. Perhaps one day sat-nav systems will be banned while the car is moving, similar to many factory setups. Do you think sat-nav systems have the potential to be as dangerous as mobile phones? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.