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This review is specifically about AA Routefinder, a service provided by the AA. It is posted under a general section for the AA Website because this is the category that Ciao decided to create for my product proposal.
I have been using the AA Routefinder for quite some time now and find it to be very useful. For those of you who may be able to make use of this and have not yet discovered it for yourself I thought that it might be a good idea to make it the subject of my latest Ciao review.
If you have not heard of this site it is owned by the AA (Automobile Association) Motoring organisation, a trustworthy name in all things to do with Motoring issues since 1905.
WHAT IS AA ROUTEFINDER?
AA Routefinder is an Online Database, which can be used for planning Car journeys or calculating routes. It can be found at http://www.theaa.com/travelwatch/planner_main.jsp?database=B or it can be accessed via the AA's main webpage at http://www.theaa.com
THE SITE LAYOUT
The home page has a bright yellow band across the top of the screen that bears the AA logo, which for those of you that are not familiar with this it is two capital letter "A's" in yellow in a small black square. The rest of the site in predominately white with black text.
Down the left hand side of the page there are several headings. These are entitled:
Products and Services - I find it quite significant that this is the first sub heading on the page. Clicking on here just takes you to a page advertising all of the AA products and services that are available and this section bears no reference to the Routefinder or Route Planning section of the site at all.
The second heading is called Routes and Traffic - This forms the bulk of the section which is most useful in planning your journey and clicking on this heading reveals five different sub headings. These are entitled Routes in Britain, Routes in Ireland, Routes in Europe, SMS Traffic Alerts, and AA Navigator.
The final three sub headings down the left hand side of the page are fairly self explanatory and are called Advice and Information, Email Newsletter, and Contact Us.
USING THE SITE
The site is very user friendly to use and if you select "Routes in Britain" under the "Routes and Traffic" heading then the cookies on the site will remember this and it will default to this the next time that you visit the site.
There are three main fields displayed in the middle of the homepage under the heading "Enter Your Route." These are as below:
From (Start of your journey) To (End of your journey) Via
The information that can be entered in the above fields are a Postcode, a Town or City, Road Name, Place of Interest.
When these fields have been filled you then click on the "Confirm locations" tab beneath these fields. This will bring up a more detailed description of the locations that you are trying to plan your route between. If there are more than one example of the place name that you have entered then all possible options will be listed in a drop down list and you have to select the correct one.
Once you have verified that the locations are correct you then click a button called "Confirm." This will then display the full route of your journey from beginning to end. The route is so detailed that if you have entered a very specific location i.e. a postcode then the directions will begin by directing you off minor rooms. For example, turn left down High Street, take second right and continue for 0.8 miles and then first right onto the A61.
There is also a journey summary displayed, which will tell you at a glance the total number of miles of your journey and the approximately time it will take as well as a map. If the route displayed looks to be acceptable it is at this point that you would normally save or print.
I use this website more or less every single day at work to plan the routes for my Engineers. I also use it to calculate costs when pricing jobs up and for crosschecking expense claims.
I find it very easy to use and very quick, especially since almost all of the locations that I am dealing with have known postcodes. There are however a few limitations and errors that I have found which is probably to be expected with a database containing so much information.
The first problem that I encountered was that AA Routefinder does not recognise the postcode of the place where I work, fortunately however it does recognise the name of the building. I have also found a couple of spelling mistakes within placenames, but don't recall at the moment precisely what they were.
Overall I would say this is an excellent site and well worth looking at. It is a completely free site to use so there is a fair bit of blatant advertising for AA products. I also like the fact that there is also no need to register with the site and give away your personal details.