Top 5 GPS mistakes – and how to avoid them
31 May 2012 Jason 0
GPS is an amazing piece of technology that allows anyone, anywhere with a receiving unit to pinpoint their exact location to within a few meters. It makes it possible to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, wherever it’s hiding on this planet.
But like all technology it’s not infallible, it can make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes have led gullible users down a merry path of tragic turns. Here’s our top five, along with some helpful tips on how you can avoid making the list.
1 – No road like a snow road
An elderly couple from Reno, Nevada, were stranded for three days in the snow after their GPS device directed them onto an unplowed road in an Oregon forest. At the time, John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, said they were driving home from Oregon “when we noticed that the snow was getting deep and we were over 30 miles into this road. We thought we didn’t have much farther to go.”
“We started to dig it out to get it so we could move on. We were successful in digging it out and moving farther down the road and we got stuck again.”
While turning back in these situations seems counter-productive sometimes it’s the smart choice, no matter what your GPS is telling you.
2 – Amphibious cars only
Update: If you think these sorts of things only happened in the early days of GPS and no one would be naive enough to blindly rely on just GPS navigation, think again. This just happened in Canada.
Driving directions can be confusing, particularly at night but the actions of three girls returning from a work conference in a rented SUV still managed to surprise officials who couldn’t understand how they managed to end up driving down a boat ramp.
“We’ve seen sitcom parodies of something like this and to actually see it is surprising,” said Lt. Eric Keenan with the Bellevue Fire Department.
The road was dark and the driver crashed the SUV into the water in Mercer Slough Nature Park.
“I don’t know why they wouldn’t question driving into a puddle that doesn’t seem to end,” Keenan said.
Reminds us of an episode of The Office.
3 – Overweight
Heavy trucks or vehicles carrying dangerous goods are restricted to specific roads to avoid creating an unnecessary hazard to other road users. Commercial navigation solutions, such as those built using Telogis GeoBase, guide drivers along legal routes but that was a luxury Doug Madison didn’t have.
Doug was driving a chemical tanker from South Carolina to Halliburton’s plant near Carmichaels, Pennsylvania when his GPS directed him off Interstate 79 and onto country roads that have a 10-ton weight limit.
Doug’s truck weighed three times that.
He was cited by a Pennsylvania State Police trooper for two traffic violations that carried a total fine of $12,000. He was scheduled to spend Christmas in Greene County but was given a last-minute reprieve and was able to go home to his family.
4 – Taking the long way
It can be confusing traveling overseas so it always pays to check your destination carefully, one piece of advice a couple of tourists will be taking seriously from now on.
Wanting to visit the popular Italian island resort of Capri, they mistakenly typed Carpi into their GPS unit and blithely sallied forth.
Now making mistakes on your GPS is one thing but only realizing you made a mistake when you’re 400 miles off course is a little less forgivable.
A local tourism official, Angelo Giovannini, told the Associated Press at the time, “Capri is an island. They did not even wonder why they didn’t cross any bridge or take any boat.”
5 – Waiting for a train to come
In an unfamiliar city after dark, 64-year-old Mary Davis let her GPS device lead the way, police said. When it told her to make a right, evidently she did – right onto railroad track and into the path of an oncoming train.
If not for a local officer who spotted her and urged her to leave the car, police said the outcome could have been tragic. Less than a minute after Davis climbed out the door, the train rammed into the back of her vehicle, totaling it, police said.
Commercial GPS systems make drivers smarter
Aside from the obvious need for common sense, there are ways to make sure your GPS works smarter.
Basic GPS location needs a little help to make it valuable to commercial fleets, where every wrong turn or unnecessary mile is a cost they can’t afford to absorb. Telogis Fleet is built on the award-winning geospatial mapping engine, GeoBase. This SDK includes features that modify the GPS information to make sure it stays accurate, relevant and useful for fleet managers.
Examples of this intelligent correction include such features as:
- Making allowances for road widths to ensure speed limit readings are accurate
- Using dead reckoning to compensate for when the GPS signal is lost
- Facility for users to provide real-world feedback on road conditions
- Truck attribute layers to help drivers route legally as well as avoid low bridges
- ADAS data to provide drivers additional road attributes such as incline
- Weather and traffic information help drivers route smarter
Telogis helps fleets plan and execute routes with less cost and greater efficiency by helping GPS work a little smarter. You can learn more about their solutions or watch a demo of their fleet management software by visiting www.telogis.com.