Field Trips

Reflections from a No Sat Nav road trip

A road trip is more about the road than the destination.  Given the small amount of time we spent in each location while travelling, this last holiday is probably best described as a road trip.  Some of the No Sat Nav blog posts focussed on where we stopped, but overall the five days seemed to be about getting from Point A to Point B.  So, for this post, I’ve selected some key features from each day’s travelling.

Day 1 was familiar territory, with the exception of the line marking trial underway near West Wyalong.  In the trial, the two centre lines are now 1.2m apart.  The line markings have been there for a couple of years.  It was reported that the trial was successful, resulting in reduced speed and increased “lane discipline” (ie less likely to drift out of one’s own lane).  Links to online information available below:

Mum was familiar with the trial, having driven these roads many times, and explained how it worked.  I found all that extra white a little unpleasant.  Turns out, they used a 6m gap between a 6m line for those places where overtaking was allowed.  We’re used to a 9m gap between our 3m lines.  That could explain why I felt so visually overwhelmed for those 5kms.

Days 2 and 4 were about the contrast between country Victoria and Melbourne.  We noted that Victorian country roads are numbered.  At first, I focussed on the names, purely out of habit, but eventually found the numbers easier to manage.  In contrast, I struggled with the signage on Melbourne roads.  I’ll admit that I was ill-prepared for the drive in and, as a result, made sure I was well-prepared for the drive out.  Yet, I don’t think that preparation made much difference.  Would it have been easier with a satellite navigation system?  Or would I be frazzled regardless?  I’m very pattern orientated and just not sure if the patterns, sizes and placements of Melbourne’s road signs are consistent enough.  Perhaps even with a Sat Nav, I’d be torn by conflicts between the instructions from the screen display and the messages I interpret from the signage.

Day 5 was the flat, straight roads of mid and north Victoria.  There is also a nagging feeling that I was booked for speeding (unintentionally).  Pottering along a straight round … doing around the high-90s … heading towards Bendigo … suddenly confronted by a bright, flashing light from an oncoming white vehicle.  Almost immediately after, I saw a large electronic display showing 80km.  I slowed but will continue to wonder what happened until something doesn’t turn up in the mail.

I can’t write about travelling with a satellite navigation system spit-licked to my windscreen as I’ve never tried it.  So, I can’t write about the differences between travelling with and without one.  Some might argue that travelling without a Sat Nav is better because you must plan, observe, assess, problem solve, reflect and commit – all part of life’s necessary tool kit.  These skills must be practiced and refined at every opportunity.

On reflection, I will not be purchasing a Sat Nav for my next driving holiday, even if it could have prevented a speeding ticket.  Living in this wide, complex and frustrating world requires us to be able to observe, sort and assess the information it throws at us.  I will happily use electronic maps when preparing for a trip.  However, once behind the wheel, it is up to me to implement that plan and make those on-the-spot decisions that every road trip will require.  Surely, that’s what a road trip is all about?

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