Instructions between driver and navigator, No! / Go! in long distance driving

What route instructions are best in the car cabin? Whose voice needs to be loud and clear? Does your communication pattern add calm or stress to your road trip? Apart from listening to the voice of Mr Tom Tom, clear verbal instructions are necessary between navigator and driver. They need to be said in a loud voice and be audible above extraneous noise such as from the radio, traffic and engine noise.

Whose voice do you most want to hear in the car;  Mr Tom Tom ( sat nav device) or your driving/navigation partner? This will depend on where you are travelling and your own circumstances.

Recently I was navigating in a new country and juggling road map books, hand written instructions, reading glasses, mobile phone, camera and the Tom Tom satellite navigation device on my lap. We had a long day ahead and the previous night, I hadn’t planned the route   with much detail. This was not ideal and I was becoming dependent on the sat nav.

P1060401Next morning, I requested my driver, ‘Hang on, don’t drive off yet, am still waiting for the satellite signal.’ This was pertinent after farewelling a family member who lives mid-city within a tangle of streets and lane ways. There are few things worse than taking the wrong turn first off. It does not set a calm mood even though my mantra is, ‘The navigator is always right.’ The flip side is ‘ we are not lost, just misplaced.’

A few days back we were only 120 miles south of London and there was no satellite signal for a couple of hours on narrow country roads which were hardly wide enough for a tractor roaring towards us. A timely reminder to not forget map reading skills. The sat nav device can and does fail.

A week later, one morning we were in the middle of rural republic of Ireland and I placed Mr Tom Tom on the dashboard waiting for a signal. In fact I had forgotten about it when suddenly the familiar Mr Tom Tom announced, ‘At the end of the road turn left.’ ‘Oh! you’ve found us’ I thought. It was a familiar voice and  reassuring.



P1060378Later that day, again no satellite signal and I resorted to my old fashioned habit of asking a local man, who was trimming his hedge, on the whereabouts of our night’s lodgings. After complicated instructions in a lilting Irish accent involving ploughed fields, young trees and around corners (which taxed my memory), we discovered our accommodation a mere three kilometers down the road. Somewhere I’ve read that only women ask directions from strangers, not men. Is this true?

“Go!” and  “No!” confusion.

So what instructions are required in the car cabin? Whose voice needs to be loud and clear? Apart from listening to the voice of Mr Tom Tom, clear verbal instructions are necessary between navigator and driver said in a loud voice, audible above extraneous noise.

Let  me discuss the Go/No instruction. as an example.

Confusion and mis-hearing easily arises between ‘Go!’ and ‘No!’ Say these words aloud  to yourself, then envisage interference from road noise, wind or radio in the car cabin. The driver concentrates on driving and the motor, braking, changing gears whilst the navigator is checking traffic conditions, safety margins and road directions. There is usually no eye contact at this stage so a clear and loud instruction must be said by the navigator.  It is easy for the driver to misunderstand,  ‘Don’t go’. ‘Don’t, no’, Don’t know’, or even the monosyllable ‘No! or ‘Go!’

When stopped at an intersection and checking for oncoming traffic, the instruction I use as navigator, is ‘Clear!’ instead of ‘Go!’ and then expect my driver to proceed driving.

Instead of ‘No! Don’t go!’,  I use ‘Car/truck/bus coming.’ Once I have its judged its speed and our safety margin, the instruction to proceed is, ‘OK, clear!’

Of course, you may use other words, but the main issue is to be consistent and that both the driver and navigator understand each other. Next month I’ll discuss how and why the navigator must only use one instruction at a time and how the driver must acknowledge.

Missing post in April

I omitted writing last month’s post as wild weather flooded my home resulting in rapid moving out of furniture, cutting away sodden carpet and packing up important papers which included my car registration and insurance renewals. In my preparation for overseas travel, I had arranged for all invoices to be paid by future Bpay online. Usually I just keep a diary and pay a few days before the due date, which does not  accommodate severe interruptions. From now on, I will always organize future online procedures. If you are planning a road trip, do check all future bills and their payments when you are away, especially home and car insurance policies.

About Jeanne Eve

Jeanne Eve lives in Australia and enjoys long distance driving to new places combined with her love of travel, writing, eating and fun company. In former times, she was a speech pathologist so appreciates the desire for good health and effective communication. She is married and has two daughters and two step-sons.

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