As part of the driving practical test, all learner drivers will be expected to complete an independent driving section where you follow directions from a satellite navigation unit, or sat nav.
This might sound simple enough, but there are many different types of sat nav. Which one will be used in the driving test, and what do you need to know about it? We explain everything you need to know in this helpful article.
The TomTom Start 52
The precise model of sat nav that will be used is a TomTom Start 52. This is a modern, no-frills sat nav, that’s primarily good for one thing: telling you where to go!
All about the TomTom Start 52
The TomTom Start 52 is pretty straightforward. It’s got a 5″ screen, which should be plenty of room for you to keep an eye on the directions you’ll need to take. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road as much as possible, though!
Like the vast majority of satellite navigation devices, the Start 52 uses GPS, or Global Positioning System to make sure you’re in the correct place on the map. It comes pre-loaded with maps for the vast majority of Europe, including places as far afield as Liechtenstein and Serbia! We’re not sure this will be of too much use in your driving exam—unless you make a lot of wrong turns—but it’s interesting to know anyway.
The sat nav normally plugs into the 9v lighter socket. This socket can power all sorts of car accessories, such as phone chargers. However, if, for whatever reason, you unplug the sat nav, it has an internal battery that will provide up to an hour’s use.
While the Start 52 does have an impressive 8GB of internal memory, it’s possible to expand the capacity with a microSD card—similar to the one found in many phones.
This sat nav also features an advanced lane guidance system, so if you get confused at a particular junction, you can check the device to make sure you’re in the right lane.
However, we’d only recommend this as a last resort. You should try not to rely on the sat nav to make decisions like this for you. While technology is becoming more and more advanced every day, human judgement is still superior!
Similarly, it’s also worth noting that your attention should be on the road—not your sat nav. Statistics show that when drivers are distracted by sat navs, or use them unsafely, they are more likely to make driving faults and even get into car accidents.
Do you fancy getting hold of a TomTom Start 52 for yourself? At the time of writing, it’s available online for only £109.99. This represents a great value first sat nav!
Understanding the screen on the TomTom Start 52
Understanding the screen on the sat nav should be fairly easy, but we’ve produced this handy guide so that you know exactly what to expect.
Each number on the picture below corresponds to a different function.
1: Switch view button. Pressing this button will change the view between map view and guidance view. You’ll probably need to use guidance view most of the time—that’s the one pictured above. Map view, on the other hand, looks like this:
2: Zoom buttons. These buttons zoom the screen in and out.
3: Instruction panel. This panel shows information such as the direction of your next turn, and the distance of your next turn.
4: Route symbols. These symbols show points of interest along your route, such as petrol stations. They also show your destination and your starting point.
5: Main menu button. Press this button to return to the main menu.
6: Speed panel. This shows the current speed limit, and the speed you’re travelling at.
7: Current location arrow. This shows your current position on your route.
8: Route bar. This shows you how far you’ve travelled along your route.
What you need to do
While all this may sound complicated, there’s no need to worry. Many instructors have already taken the step of purchasing a TomTom Start 52. This means that you should have plenty of time to accustom yourself to the way the device works.
Also, while it’s important to have plenty of experience of driving with a sat nav, it will be the examiner who actually operates the device: it’s up to them to input the route.
So, all you’ll need to do is follow the instructions that the sat nav gives you. Don’t forget, you can always ask the examiner for confirmation of where you need to go if you’re not sure.
It’s important to remember that you can’t be penalised for taking a wrong turn. This part of the test is simply designed to test your ability to drive safely, rather than remember directions!
We’re sure you’ve got loads of questions about your driving practical test. What if you know you’ve failed during your test, for instance? And should you take your instructor on the test with you? Thankfully, at PassMeFast, we’re here to steer you in the right direction!