According to a survey carried out for the British insurance company, Shiela’s Wheels, the average British male motorist drives an extra 444 kilometres a year, and the average female motorist drives an extra 412 kilometres a year, as a result of being lost. The company calculated that motorists waste an average of about 1,660 litres of petrol costing about £2,000 ($3,500) in their lifetime.

More than a quarter of men (26 per cent) surveyed wait at least half an hour before asking for directions, with 12 per cent of male motorists refusing to ask a stranger for help at all. 40 per cent of the men polled said that even if they were to ask a stranger for directions, they wouldn’t always trust or follow them. In contrast, almost three-quarters of women (74 per cent) have no qualms about asking for directions, with 37 per cent saying that they pull over as soon as they realise they are lost. 

The research revealed that motorists over 55 have the best sense of direction, getting lost "just" 26 times a year on average – compared to motorists under 25 who get lost on average 37 times a year.

The survey didn’t cover countries outside of Britain and Northern Ireland, where 58% of men pretend to know where they are when lost, compared to 25% of Londoners.

Since it seems unlikely that motorists will change their habits, satellite navigation systems look like a good investment.