Putting to good use old school navigating methods


The enactment of the Distracted Driving Law put to light why motorists should devote much of their attention toward the road, and how driver error has been the leading cause of vehicular accidents.

The smartphone actually got a lot of focus from the law, even being denigrated as a source of distraction even if navigational programs like Waze are actually very useful. However, old school drivers, or those who learned how to drive before Google Maps and Waze were introduced, have a lot to teach those who tend to rely mostly on the internet or connectivity to get to a destination.

Old school driving relied more on maps, landmarks, road signs and even information from locals to get to a destination that is not familiar to them. For familiar destinations, old school drivers simply relied on landmarks and even the trip meter of their vehicles.

For this article, the author will share many of the old school driving methods on getting to a destination that is not familiar, while appreciating new tools like Waze and GPS.

The author’s thesis is old school navigational methods should never be treated like old school at all, because these are very useful. Among the most useful old school methods are mapping, using landmarks, taking note of road directions and signages, using the trip meter, and asking for directions (as a last resort). The use of Waze can be integrated into these methods.

Whenever embarking on a trip to an unfamiliar destination, it is always best to first browse Google on how to get there. Using printed maps is also okay for as long as there are updated.

When getting directions from Google or printed maps, always take into account the most prominent landmarks like gas stations, municipal halls, commercial establishments and hotels, bridges, bodies of water, among others.

When driving with a companion, you can appoint him or her as your “navigator” to identify the landmarks by looking at the road or through Waze.

A navigator who knows how to “read the road” is always the best companion. In rally driving, the co-driver actually takes the role of a navigator and is usually guided by a route book that details the directions to be taken and the road conditions. The navigator should establish clear communication with the driver. A navigator during rallies also studies the route book in advance, so he or she can know of the dangerous points on a route to be taken, and inform the driver on what to expect ahead. It is no surprise that co-drivers or navigators of top rally drivers are themselves.

But entrusting navigation duties to a person who hardly understands the rigors of driving out of the metropolis can become a liability to a driver. If such is the case, then the driver also has to read the road ahead to get to an unfamiliar destination.

Anyway, why employ a navigator if possible? Simple – roads that you are not familiar with may have numerous road hazards like slow moving vehicles, careless pedestrians, road portions that narrow, blind approaches and even unexpected road imperfections that will require a drive to devote 101 percent of his attention toward the road.

Using landmarks
A good driver and navigator knows how to use landmarks to get to a destination that is unfamiliar, and there are many of them ranging from gasoline stations to welcome arches. Most of these landmarks can be found in Google maps or even printed maps.

It is actually best to write down what type of landmarks to watch out for when driving toward and unfamiliar destination. The purpose of this is to make the driver know even kilometers away the landmarks to expect as a guide. Do this even with the aid of Waze.

As stated earlier, navigators and co-drivers of rally drivers must study a route book of a race route days or even weeks before the actual race, so they can effectively guide their driver in a rally when driving a very high speeds is the norm. The purpose of this is the driver can adjust the speed of the vehicle when there is a need, like taking a sharp turn.

Useful signages
The use of road signages on road directions and reading the trip meter should never be ignored by drivers who even drive to familiar destinations.

The only drawback here is it may be very hard to read the trip meter or to make calculations of distance while driving. In the absence of a companion, this could be quite hard.

But when you have a companion, asking him or her to jot down the distance to a destination or a landmark is easy; he or she need not have the skills of a rally navigator to calculate distance and even read the tripmeter.

Also, anybody can read road signs.

Asking for directions
When lost or struggling to find the right direction, asking for directions should be the last resort. But do not be surprised that some locals are not very familiar with their own areas.

Asking for directions from a motorist who has been to the place where you are heading is also a very good option. Always do this if possible.

In both instances, it is best to write down on a paper or to save on a smartphone the directions given to reach a destination, especially if there is a need to take numerous turns.

Asking local for directions, however, should only be resorted to if Waze and GPS can no longer help, like when it is already confusing to find one’s destination. This happens even to the best of drivers.

Integrating Waze
Waze is a very useful tool for locating specific sites in a city and even out-of-town destinations.

But when going to a place outside the metropolis which is not familiar to you, it is best to study the route through Google maps and let Waze, GPS, landmarks, road signs, among others, guide you.

But when it comes to negotiating roads that are challenging, like Kennon Road going to Baguio City or the route going to Sagada via Bontoc and Banaue, it is best just to keep all your attention toward the road to determine the points where you have to decelerate, brake, turn and even apply power.

Get there before sundown
When driving to an unfamiliar destination, make sure that you give enough time to arrive before sundown, because it is a nightmare to get lost in an area when the sun is already down.

There is even a superstitious belief among rural folk that if one gets lost at night and could not find the way to his or her destination, some entities are at work to make a person just go in circles and be confused.

So if going to a place that is not familiar to you, always give a two- or three-hour allowance to get there before sundown. Trip calculations are available from the internet but it is also best to do your own calculations.

A good driver usually prepares ahead for a trip to an unfamiliar destination will surely get there safely; he or she will first identify the route via Google or printed maps, and put to good use old school navigation skills while not ignoring Waze or GPS.


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