According to every GPS device I’ve ever encountered, my house is located half way down the block–four houses away from its actual corner location. And while I realize every satellite navigation system has a margin of error, this mistake is peculiar because it remains consistent from system to system.
Maybe I bought the wrong house, and only think the one I purchased is actually where it is. Or maybe someone made an entry error on some master mapping software program.
Whatever the reason, I know enough to ignore the computer when it routes ne to an obviously wrong location. Don’t misunderstand. I’m fully enamored with GPS, and have no desire to return to paper maps. But I know it’s not perfect. And why should it be?
GPS is an amazing technology, but it’s powered not only by satellites but people. So, of course, it makes mistakes.
I spent 45 minutes trying to find a hotel in a small college town in Delaware, unsure how to override the system’s insistence that I turn the wrong way on a one-way street. Less than a week later, it routed me to a house instead of the restaurant I’d entered. And I still haven’t decided why every unit I’ve used wants me to turn right when I exit the highway near my home, when both the shortest and fastest way is turning left.
Still, I’m bewildered by the preponderance of drivers who seem to lose their minds, or at least their common sense, when driving under the influence of GPS.
One woman sent her Mercedes SL500 flying into a river, trusting the car’s optimistic GPS guidance instead of the road signs warning of impending doom.
An 80-year old man blatantly ignored a prominent “closed for construction” sign, then threw all common sense aside by wheeling over “a number of warnings and barricades” in an effort to follow his GPS. He was German, so that explains the unchecked faith in authority, even the robotic kind. But there’s more.
After a road closure in England, dozens of drivers blithely followed directions from their satellite navigation systems, not realizing that the recommended route now went through the River Avon.
A truck driver continued down an incredibly narrow lane at the request of his GPS, and even though the king-size vehicle was clearly too large to make it around a 90-degree turn, he continued onward. The result: his truck ended wedged so tightly he couldn’t reverse his way out.
In Milan, the driver of an Audi A4 took a “wrong turn” and ended up on train tracks, holding up the line for hours. The driver claimed he was just following directions on his navigation system.
I have trust issues, so I’ve never gotten quite as carried away with my GPS.
But I once unwittingly ended up stranded on a beach, the wheels of my Ford Econoline conversion van buried too deep in sand to continue. The incident predates GPS technology, so I can’t blame inaccurate satellites. I can’t even blame a map. It happened because someone who cares about me wanted to save me a long walk back to the car.
It wasn’t about technology.
It was just about being human…the source of all stupidity.