Despite the prevalence of in-car tech, research shows two-thirds of UK motorists still own a paper road atlas, although many of those are out of date. The study of more than 15,000 British drivers by the AA found almost one in five motorists admit they have never updated their road maps.

According to the AA’s survey, 11 percent of drivers take more than five years to buy a replacement map, while 18 percent of respondents said they update their road atlas every three years. Just seven percent of those surveyed said they bought a new road atlas every year to stay up-to-date with changes to road layouts.

Drivers in Northern Ireland and Scotland were least likely to have renewed their road atlas, with 21 percent and 20 percent saying they still had their first road map. At the opposite end of the scale, motorists in the East and West Midlands were the most likely to keep their atlases up to date, with nine percent of respondents in those regions splashing out on new editions every year.

Google Maps is used to navigate a journey while driving

The AA’s president, Edmund King, said an up-to-date map should be an “essential” item for drivers, providing foolproof backup when high-tech features fail. He also said a road map was more useful for route planning and blocked roads, because satellite navigation systems often try to reroute drivers onto the blocked route.

“Two thirds of drivers still have an atlas but too many of them are out of date,” said King. “Despite the advent of the sat nav, atlases are still an essential in-car item alongside the ice-scraper or torch. When roads are blocked following an incident many satellite navigation systems just try to re-route back onto the blocked road, whereas the atlas can show you alternative routes. When planning a road trip, nothing quite compares to the excitement of turning the pages of an atlas. Even the Queen has been spotted with an atlas.”

However, King’s fervour for the humble road atlas may have something to do with the release of the AA’s 2022 road atlas. The series has been relaunched with a variety of different versions to suit drivers’ needs.

“With nearly half a million copies of this year’s range already sold, it is clear that for British motorists the AA Atlas range is still a vital companion when exploring the UK,” said AA Media’s managing director, Simon Numphud. “With the country’s infrastructure always evolving, including the introduction of smart motorways and changes to tolls and restrictions, we encourage drivers to keep their atlases up to date so they are never caught out when on the roads.”