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Your SatNav: A Potential Killing Machine?

Article by: robert
Date: 4 Jan 2010

pocketgpsworld.comWe've all had a good laugh at the expense of those who blindly follow their SatNav's directions and find themselves on farm tracks or 100's of miles from where they expected.

But have you ever thought how serious too much of a reliance on GPS could be, especially if it gets you stranded for days at a time?

Boston.com reports that a couple who relied on their SatNav to guide them through the high desert of Eastern Oregon got stuck in snow for three days down a remote forest road.

And Yahoo reports another Oregon couple who blindly followed their SatNav (a parental Christmas gift) into the mountains on Christmas Eve and eventually got stuck in the snow, with their 11 month old daughter. The couple actually filmed a goodbye video after spending the night in their car.

SatNavs routinely direct drivers through thousands of miles of forest service logging mountain roads which are often impassable with snow.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the National Association for Search and Rescue say they hear about these situations every now and again. Christie Hyde of AAA said "It's usually about every other month. It's a small number compared with the millions of GPS units in service."

She also spoke of one driver who made an incorrect right turn as directed and had to be towed off railroad tracks, and another party led near the edge of a cliff.

The moral of the story is if that direction or turning doesn't look quite right, it probably isn't and if you find yourself in an environment that you're not used to, don't just continue blindly, zoom out and check the journey ahead or simply turn back!
Posted by Darren on Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:27 pm Reply with quote

The moral of the story is that idiots should not be allowed to drive, time for an IQ test before issuing driving licences?

Sseriously, this isn't the fault of GPS, it's the berks behind the wheel who are entirely to blame.

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by worried on Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:43 pm Reply with quote

I have a Navman with fairly recent UK maps, used in the Scottish Highland, Welsh Mountains and Cornish lanes with no Problems.
But last month, had a meal At the Yew Tree Great Horkesley CO6 4EG, and wanted to go to Aldi at Stowmarket IP14 1RA. It took me south, turn right Ivy Lodge road, then left Straight Road, Here it got interesting, Right turn Old House lane, Which on my map goes to Langham Lane. Old Hall lane was a bit rough but drivable, however two Kilometres later A locked gate. I dont consider myself an idiot, and the road was on my map

Posted by Darren on Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:51 pm Reply with quote

So did you miss a sign at some point? The existence of a road on a map does not make it driveable. If gated then it must be a private road which would be signed at the entrance?

Surely at some point prior to the locked gate you must have thought something was amiss? You say "Old Hall lane was a bit rough but drivable", I assume this was meant to read 'Old House Lane'? But did its condition not suggest something was wrong?

Doesn't change my views but particularly in the case of the those in the opening article, they continued to drive into heavy snow rather than turn back and so are idiots.

SatNav is a guide, you are still expected to use your eyes and your judgement. If you don't then it isn't the satnav that is to blame.

Google uses TA maps and knows not to use that road btw:

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by Border_Collie on Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:15 pm Reply with quote

To be fair to 'worried', several years ago, before I had sat nav, I wanted to get back to our campsite in Scotland. I checked the AA route map and found a road which went over the mountains, much quicker than driving all the way around, or so I thought. The road, although narrrow as many are up there, was in good condition and we took in some lovely views. After maybe 45 minutes or so driving we came across a locked farm gate. There had been no signs indicating a 'cul de sac' or any other indication it was other than a normal Scottish route. We could see the main road we wanted a few hundred yards further on. I got out to have a look to see if there was any way round only to be attached by hundreds of flies, nay millions of the little (beep)s. They got everywhere. The 45 minutes back to the start of the road was spent killing the flies in the car.

Whether a sat nav would have taken me that way or not I don't know, but if the routing shows the same as you'd probably choose from a map then you can't really be at fault in every case. Can you?

Formerly known as Lost_Property
And NO that's NOT me in the Avatar.

Posted by Darren on Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:23 pm Reply with quote

Lost_Property Wrote:
but if the routing shows the same as you'd probably choose from a map then you can't really be at fault in every case. Can you?

But neither of these examples are the same as the life threatening ones in the opening storey are they and rather besides the point?

If you drove up a mountain into heavier and heavier snowfall would you press on or turn back? Most sane people, ill equipped to traverse a mountain pass in heavy snow would turn back!

Would you drive down a goat track and get your car stuck on a precipice as one driver did blindly following his nav? Or through a railway crossing barrier as one stupid girl did because her nav didn't tell her?

To get caught out with a gate is one thing that I accept could happen to anyone but the other examples, which are what this story is about, are not the acts of normal intelligent people are they?

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by Duddy on Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:27 am Reply with quote

In 2008 I was asked by one of my surveyors to assist with an accident he was involved in where a car drove straight over a give way line into his car.
I made further enquiries and found the offending driver admitted to the police he was following his sat nav and it didn't warn him he was approaching a major road, he complained it didn't warn him of the "Give Way" markings so it was all the fault of the sat nav and he didn't understand why he was prosecuted for due care.
Personally, if he had made that reply when I was in the job I would have reported him for dangerous driving with a reccomendation of a re-test.
Always remember a sat nav is a small computer and a computer is just a high speed idiot, unfortunatly idiot drivers follow them blindly.

HUAWEI P30 Pro (new edition) with Speedtrap Alert & alcatel1 for SatNav
CoPilot 10 with CamerAlert
RoadHawk in-car video
Reading glasses getting thicker as is my waist
Retired but want to go back to work for a rest.

Posted by Kar98 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:22 am Reply with quote

I've met many people from Oregon and I have to say that no, it's not the sat nav that's at fault here.

Posted by Graculus on Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:55 am Reply with quote

worried Wrote:
Here it got interesting, Right turn Old House lane, Which on my map goes to Langham Lane. Old Hall lane was a bit rough but drivable, however two Kilometres later A locked gate. I dont consider myself an idiot, and the road was on my map

Wrong map Wink ! That's where good old OS maps are a must. If you look at the OS map of the area, it's pretty obvious that's just a farm track and not a public road. While SatNav maps are often not too good at distinguishing between the two, it's normally pretty obvious when you see it for real.

Posted by matthewj on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:19 am Reply with quote

Why go to the US, when we can do it fine in the Lake District? The warnings about these roads were on all the local info sites, and this road is not good at the best of times.


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