Skip to main content

Intelligent Rat-Runners: Impact of Car Navigation Systems on Safety of Residential Roads


The authors investigated the phenomenon of “intelligent rat-runners”—that is, road drivers that use car navigation systems to drive through residential areas in order to avoid congested traffic on arterial roads. A nationwide questionnaire survey revealed that some of such drivers, as a result of having to look at the displays of their navigation systems, have had experiences that could have resulted in serious accidents. A driving experiment conducted showed that drivers with access to information about narrow streets and route guidance through their navigation systems have a greater tendency to avoid congested arterial roads by turning into residential areas.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10


  1. 1.

    ADAC e.V.: Verkehrsprobleme durch den massenhaften Einsatz von Navigationsgeräten. München (2008)

  2. 2.

    Kubota, H., Koyama, S., Iwazaki, N., Monji, T.: Can we protect our neighborhood from “Intelligent Rat-Runners?” 2nd World Congress of Intelligent Transportation Systems, pp. 1894–1899 (1995)

  3. 3.

    Lyall, S.: Rural Britain Wants to Take Itself off the GPS Map, The New York Times, 2007/12/3 (2007)

  4. 4.

    Saranow, J.: Steered wrong: Drivers trust GPS even to a fault. Wall Str. J. 2008/3/18, p. 1 (2008)

  5. 5.

    Stichting Onderzoek Navigatiesystemen: Navigation Systems Seriously Undermine Road Safety: Software Errors are being Ignored, The Hague (2007)

  6. 6.

    SWOV; SWOV Fact sheet, Safety effects of navigation systems, Leidschendam (2009)

Download references


This work was supported by International Association of Traffic and Safety Science. The authors also thank Japan Automobile Federation for their cooperation.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Aya Kojima.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kojima, A., Elfferding, S. & Kubota, H. Intelligent Rat-Runners: Impact of Car Navigation Systems on Safety of Residential Roads. Int. J. ITS Res. 13, 9–16 (2015).

Download citation


  • Car navigation system
  • Rat-runner
  • Residential area
  • Traffic safety
  • Traffic calming