You’re out of town driving around in an unfamiliar area and what do you do? You reach for your most-trusted navigation system to guide you where you want to go. It’s a pretty typical scenario however, the heavy reliance on GPS within the last decade has caused serious injuries and, in some cases, even death.
What’s the Problem?
In the articles about people who were stranded in the desert or taken down the wrong road, the mislead people said that they believed the GPS was taking them to the correct destination. We have learned to rely on our technology and we put a great deal of faith in it. As a result, we have a tendency to go into auto pilot when our GPS tells us to turn right or go straight. This can cause our instincts to turn off, which can cause problems. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget that these navigation systems are simply a tool, and like all tools, require caution in their use.
We forget that navigation systems are a tool and as such we need to be more educated about the tool, how it works, and maybe a little less reliant on it.
GPS is Not a Fail-Safe System
Navigation systems are not always up-to-date; construction, road closures, accidents, and the like are not always updated in certain systems. In one report, a navigation system took a couple through an unsafe neighborhood in Brazil where the wife was shot and killed and the husband was brutally assaulted. While this is an extreme example, it’s not the only report of GPS users being in danger by blindly following directions. Families have gotten lost in Death Valley and people have driven into bodies of water by simply listening to their GPS. Some providers are trying to help by adding new features to their apps. Waze is slowly rolling out an option for “avoid crime hotspots.”
GPS is a Distraction
Not only can GPS lead you way off the beaten path, but it can be a distraction while driving. Think of all things you have to keep track of while you’re driving with a navigation system:
- Keeping your eyes on the road
- Listening to the directions
- Looking at the map to see if you’re on the right road
- Looking for street signs
- Obeying traffic laws (i.e. stop signs, yields, merges, etc.)
Certain navigation systems even offer faster routes while you’re driving; to accept this new route, you have to touch your phone or GPS machine. Trying to find the new route can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the area. Some U.S. states and cities have banned the use of cell phones while driving, so you may be breaking the law when you adjust your GPS.
Do Your Research
Before you take a road trip this summer, whether it’s here in the states or abroad, check out your route before you go. You can look up the U.S. state’s laws on banned hand-held cell phone use while driving and research if your route has any construction or road closures. If you do use your GPS, review the drive before you put the car into gear. That will give you chance to look at the street names, turns, and any possible obstacles plus you’ll have some familiarity of the drive before you even go.
Note: Pennsylvania has only banned texting and driving, New Jersey has banned all hand-held cell phone use while driving.
Hurt in an Auto Accident?
If you were hurt in auto accident as a result of a distracted driver, contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Lowenthal and Abrams. Our lawyers have been working since 1975 to get the best settlements for those who were wrongfully injured or killed because of another person’s negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.