It wasn’t so long ago that most of us relied on the humble road map to get us from A to B, but with the advent of GPS navigation systems, our map-reading skills are rarely required. There is no denying the usefulness of GPS systems, particularly if you have a tendency to get lost, but do they actually save you time? According to a recent proprietary research study, if you have a traffic-enabled GPS and spend most of your time on busy roads, you could save yourself up to four days a year.

The research was undertaken by NuStats, and conducted in Dusseldorf and Munich, Germany. Three groups of drivers were evaluated: drivers without a navigation system, drivers with a navigation system, and drivers with a real-time traffic navigation system. The research indicated that drivers with navigation systems that included traffic-enabled navigation devices spent 18% less time on the road during an average trip than those drivers without a navigation system. Also, the research showed that drivers with real-time traffic navigation systems had savings on fuel efficiency, using an average of 21% less fuel (approx 0.87 tons) than a driver without a navigation system.

The drivers involved took over 2,100 trips, covered more than 12,400 miles (approx. 20,000 kilometers) and spent almost 500 hours on the road. The participants who did not have a GPS system had their vehicles fitted with a logging device that tracked their route and their driving speed.

The study was commissioned by NAVTEQ, a supplier of digital map, traffic and location data for navigation systems, so you should take that into account when considering the benefits. But if you’re a time-poor urban traveler, a traffic-enabled GPS might just save you some valuable minutes (and that extra trip to the gas station).