Smartphones make everything easily accessible – including directions to almost anywhere in the world. Mobile applications, such as Google Maps, provide users navigation from point A to point B via vehicle, public transportation, foot, bike and even plane.1 Real-time updates alert drivers to construction zones and accidents, and can even recommend alternate routes as necessary.

Before we had apps, we had navigation systems.2 Built-in or portable, many commuters and travelers relied on GPS navigation to get to their destination. However, historically, these devices have not offered real-time data and other features found on mobile apps.3

Poll: What type of navigation system do you use while driving?

0% Built-in
0% Portable GPS
0% Mobile navigation app, such as Google Maps
0% Paper road map
0% My sense of direction
0% Other

Automotive industry fights back

Automakers, such as Tesla and Ford, are using smart technology to develop built-in navigation systems that offer drivers up-to-date driving directions, as well as other features.4

“Pressure from Google Maps and Apple Maps made automobile manufacturers realize they have to step up with over-the-air updates of their maps and their software,” says Harold Goddijn, CEO of global technology company TomTom.4

Utilizing mapping and location data from HERE Technologies, the U.S. automotive industry is gaining access to real-time updates as it relates to traffic flow and other driving behaviors.4 Access to this information will soon change the way built-in navigation systems function, challenging the dominance of mobile GPS apps in the marketplace.

Benefits of built-in GPS navigation systems

While navigation apps are especially handy for those who walk to work or use public transportation, they may not be the best option for the majority of commuters. Contrary to what many think, texting is not the most distracting thing you can do behind the wheel.

While mobile navigation apps aren’t connected to your vehicle in terms of accessibility, built-in GPS can be. Navigation systems that are part of a vehicle’s technology would allow manufacturers to take measures that may help prevent distracted driving. For instance, a built-in system could ensure destinations are punched in while a vehicle is parked and would disable this functionality when the vehicle is in motion, as use of a navigation system is considered a form of distracted driving.5

While some mobile applications can help limit distractions while driving, cellphone use for all drivers is not banned while driving in the U.S. However, 47 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.6 And 18 states have banned hand-held use of a cellphone while driving.7

It’s important to note that while cellphone use while driving has not increased in recent years, the number of accidents has risen.7 This may be a sign that drivers are distracted by more than just their phones when on the road.

Regardless of whether you use a navigation system or navigation app, plan ahead and review your route before you get behind the wheel. If you miss a turn or need to make a stop along the way, find a safe place to pull over and figure out what your next move should be. Have a passenger assist you with navigation when possible.

Learn about the latest auto technology to help you stay safe on the road.