Why We Dislike Navigation Systems


Well everyone's using them...

Use turn-by-turn navigation while driving?  Millions of American drivers do, often when making short trips or on routes they are familiar with just for the traffic updates or an estimated arrival time. 

Remember when the only GPS-aided navigation systems available were the size of a cell phone (or larger in some cases), and would be affixed to your dashboard or windshield?  And periodically have to be updated by plugging in to a computer?  My have the times changed.  While these systems are still available and have many benefits, the need for a dedicated unit such as this is diminishing. 

A lot of info at your fingertips

Navigation or “maps” apps are plentiful these days, operating on your phone and constantly updated with new road and destination information.  Advanced tracking features allow drivers to learn about traffic conditions ahead during their trip, helping to plan accordingly.  Plus, many late-model vehicles come equipped with built-in navigation systems, a lot of which get their information from or are directly tied in to the major services you’re used to, such as Waze. 

With all the benefits these apps bring, you may be curious as to why we despise them so much. The answer is a simple one actually:  our secrets are out!  As these latest apps track your location (often in the background, even if you’re not using the app), they are constantly updating speed and distance information to show you arrival times and traffic conditions. If an issue is ahead, the app will “re-route” you to help save time. 


These new routes will guide you on to secondary or backroads roads, hopefully helping shave time off your delay.  This is especially helpful for travelers from out-of-town or those not familiar with the roads in the area. 

Our issue is that these backroads are the routes we would count on during heavy traffic periods to help teach students how to drive!  Therefore, what our instructors historically would count on as an unknown or less travelled route is now just as bad as the main arteries. 

Here's what we're talking about:

Here are two examples in the Fredericksburg/Stafford area of what we’re talking about:

  1. Off of southbound Rt 17, heading towards I95, the route leads you from Plantation Drive around the Target shopping center that brings you to the traffic lights at the exit. 
  2. Again off of southbound Rt 17, heading towards I95, the way from the GEICO building, near the Rappahanock River and back up to 17 that brings you to the light with the Shell gas station. 

For some time, these two ways of beating the traffic delays approaching Interstate 95 were somewhat secret, known mainly only to those really familiar with the area.  Today, not so much. Next time you travel one of these two routes, count how many out-of-state license plates you see.  Our point exactly!

It’s becoming more and more difficult to work with behind the wheel and private lesson students on building their highway or open road skills as we too are victims of the plaguing traffic jams. As a result, we’re having to get creative with scheduling lessons earlier in the day or later in the evening, just so new drivers can get the practice they need at higher speeds. 

Don’t get us wrong, we too love navigation aids. Sitting in traffic is great for those taking behind the wheel or private lessons as they are becoming familiar (unfortunately) with the conditions they can expect to drive in.  But we sure do miss the days of the openness on roads less travelled throughout the area. 

Scroll to Top