Do you trust GPS directions?

By | June 16th, 2012

If you have a driver’s license, chances are that you also have an amusing story about GPS directions.

Here’s mine: A few weeks ago, my family and I were driving from Cayucos, Calif., to Prescott, Ariz., when I noticed that the needle on the fuel gauge was pointing to “empty.” Not a problem, I thought. There must be plenty of service stations between here and Bakersfield.

We’d entrusted our route to the Google Maps app on my iPhone; it had never steered us wrong. The program assured me that yes, the winding road between Santa Maria and Interstate 5 was the fastest, most direct route to our destination. It even showed me the gas stations along the way: a Texaco, an Exxon and a Chevron.

Wrong on all counts.

Our “direct” route took us on a narrow two-lane road through Central California’s hill country, a sparsely populated part of the Golden State. By the time we reached the promised location of the first gas station, the “E” light was glaring at me from the dashboard and we were running on fumes. But the station was nowhere to be found. That was about when we noticed the refineries and realized that our helpful app couldn’t tell the difference between a gas station and a fuel processing plant.

Directions offered via smartphone through a mapping service such as Google Maps or Mapquest and aided by the Global Positioning System (GPS), the satellite-based navigation system that provides location information, have always been a little iffy. But recent advances hold the promise of change.

Google has unveiled what it’s calling a “next generation” update to its maps program that will allow it to map off-road locations; a spokesman told me that the company is also making all its directions “more accurate.” And Apple, maker of the uber-popular iPhone, has announced that it’s developing a new mapping application that will be available with its latest phone operating system. With two leading GPS apps in your smartphone, you’ll be able to plot a route with both to see whether they agree; if they don’t, you can consult a “real” map or just ask for directions.

Related story:   "Today is the day to think about the passengers"

It’s not yet clear whether the upgrades will arrive in time to benefit summer travelers. If they do, it won’t be a moment too soon.

Susan Miller, a communications consultant in South Florida, recently asked her Garmin GPS device to plot a course from Plantation, Fla., to SeaWorld in Orlando. Instead, the map led her to the SeaWorld gift shop at Orlando International Airport. (Fortunately, the theme park is only a few miles away.) “I thought we were headed in the wrong direction, but I kept doing what it told me to,” says Miller. “It was exasperating.”

An experience like that might be a one-time annoyance to some travelers, but it can be a big problem for travel-related businesses, such as Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast in Oregon’s wine country. An error in Google Maps and other GPS-based mapping applications sends visitors on a two-mile detour down a gravel road, says innkeeper Kristin Fintel. “It’s frustrating for me, knowing that our guests were inconvenienced and that potential guests reading reviews might avoid us because it was a challenge to find,” she says.

Google says that it’s “aware” of the Chehalem mapping mistake and has made a partial fix.

Such problems aren’t new. Ever since GPS devices became available to a mass audience, complaints about circuitous directions have been a mainstay of the American road trip experience. Tales of nonexistent highways and bridges and harrowing turns down one-way streets make road-trippers chuckle and say, “Next time, bring a real map.”

And certainly, a paper map is a good idea if you’re visiting a place with poor cellphone reception or sparse power outlets. After all, when your phone or portable GPS unit runs out of juice, you’re as good as lost.

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For some drivers, a better GPS experience is already in their grasp; it’s just a matter of paying attention. Rich Owings, an expert on GPS maps who publishes an online gear review site called GPS Tracklog, says that users often forget to update their software before they take a road trip, so their maps aren’t accurate. “When your settings aren’t right, that’s when people will end up routing over gravel roads,” he says.

And David Bakke, who edits the personal finance site Money Crashers, says that drivers often don’t bother to double-check their destination to make sure that the system didn’t identify the wrong place with a similar name. (Like, um, making sure that it’s a Texaco gas station instead of a refinery.)

Lynda Trujillo, a blogger who specializes in European travel and has had her share of misadventures with GPS directions, says immediate and constant user feedback to the app providers is the only way to keep the maps accurate. “They should set up a pop-up window that allows consumers to rate the route’s accuracy, or include a tab for easy reporting,” she says. “Something easy, like radio buttons you can click, with options to report a glitch.”

Maybe they will. If they’d offered that option when we were driving through the hills of California, I would gladly have given ’em a piece of my mind. We were within miles of running out of fuel, thanks in no small part to my all-knowing app. Just in time, we coasted down a gentle incline into the Central Valley off I-5, rolling to a stop at the first real service station since Santa Maria.

Related story:   That's ridiculous! What you see isn't what you get

Some say that smartphones are getting smarter than humans, but after almost being stranded on a lonely mountain road, I know that isn’t true.

  • typhn

    Funnily, we enjoy our maps more – getting lost.. a little fight.. hunting down a restaurant we’ve heard of.. its all part of the travel experience when we drive :) The times we’ve used a GPS has never been that much fun..

  • bodega3

    From our house to the next city west of us, which we get to by making a left out of our driveway and the the next right all the way to the city limits is not how the GPS wishes us to go.  It want to send us 8 miles/10 minutes out of our way in another direction. 

    Driving in Sacramento,CAm it gave us a route that added 20 minutes and through the city, not via the freeway and 3 minutes away.

    In Denver, the hotel was on the frontage road right in front of us but the GPS wanted to send us up another highway to another turn off and bring us back down the frontage road.

    Not a trustworthy for the ‘quickest’ route in many cases!

  • technomage1

    GPS does a decent job, all things considered. I always supplement it, however, with paper directions and signage for my destination as I get close to it.

  • Grueny

    After the GPS on my phone sent us down a dead end twice on one trip, my friend was convinced that the GPS software on my phone was brought to you by BP & Shell.

  • There’s a bit of misunderstanding.  GPS has issues of poor reception in some places.  But maps are maps.  The format of the map delivery to the end user, whether paper or electronic, has no bearing on its accuracy.

    However, in fairness,  when walking, we do seem to interact better with a paper map than a GPS device.

  • BillCCC

    I usually trust the GPS but I pay closer attention after mine directed me to turn right onto the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.

  • marie3656

    Taking all that I’ve learned from reading your column and the comments from readers, let me take a stab at what you could have done to avoid this.
    1.  First, did you buy a discount GPS system? Was it part of a package deal? When a consumer spends less than retail price, they should expect to receive less. Especially when it comes to customer service. Since you may have received a cut-rate product, why would you expect it to be fully accurate?

    2.  For an ininerary like this, you could have used a travel agent. AAA comes to mind, since they do the nifty trip tix (do they still do that?). They could have identified all of the service stations along your route. If you DIY, like your family attempted to do, you may not know all of the insides and outs of your destination…rural CA.

    3. Common sense reigns. Of course those would be refineries. Everyone who has ever visited that area would know that it’s a big refinery area, so you should have done your research before leaving home so that you are not faced with these surprises.

    4. You should have considered a car with better fuel economy. You may have saved a few dollars not getting a hybrid, but at what expense? You lost 30 minutes of your vacation!

    5. Did you get insurance to cover the cost of such surprises? If not, then perhaps you didn’t plan for the unexpected.

    6. Responding to the GPS system via a “quick button” would be easy, but to what end? You should write an email (not call) Google Maps executives (google “Sergey at Google” for his contact information) so that you have evidence (and some photos of the faulty GPS map wouldn’t hurt either). In the email, you should report the problems with the map as well as a kindly worded request for what you would like. Please leave out the extraneous information and dramatics such as “the E glaring at me” and that you were traveling with your family. Do you think that you deserve more because you’re “part of a family”? Why should you receive special treatment? Also, avoid the laundry list of complaints, such as unrelated stories about gravel roads and SeaWorld. It makes you seem like a complainer.

    I hope this all works out to your satisfaction and that you managed to have a good trip in spite of this calamity.


    (All joking aside, I love the column and have gotten a lot of good advice from it. It’s part of my morning routine).

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Post deleted due to lack of caffeination at composition.

  • In Ireland, my wife and daughter using a Garmin and latest Irish maps ended up on a one lane mountain goat track in Co Mayo near Lough Mask.  The locals do take that road, but there is a paved road alternative to get over the mountain.  Though the scenery was magnificent (says the daughter) my wife does not remember it due to fear; tumbling off the road hundreds of feet.  We went back last March and the Garmin again listed this route for us to get to relations, and luckily my wife remembered it before we had gone past the point of no return.  On the plus side, her street cred with my relations went up a lot having driven that.

  • Kotch11

    I just enjoy the experiences of these.  I rarely use a GPS, but have had some amusing experiences.  One time into a trailer park that should have been a road over to the next highway.  One time sending me right and into a subdivision to circle around and come back where I had been, but I got where I was going, and it was fun

  • othermike27

     Maybe if you take a step or two back, you can spot the heavy dose of irony, hmm??

    And maybe the people who expect perfection from any GPS are a tad unrealistic. I travel with GPS, iPhone and often a paper map or atlas.  But there’s no substitute for using your noggin: trust, but verify, as the saying goes.

  • My favorite worst instructions from Garmin “Make a U-turn, then make a U-turn”…..(!)

  • oceankitten

    we were visiting san diego for the first time in about eight years, and were going to a padres game at the new petco park in downtown.  i don’t know where the gps thought we were going, but it started taking us to the us/mexico border…

  • Cathy_Disqus

     LOL Marie! You’ve definitely been paying attention to the comments on Chris’ past columns.

  • John Simpson

    I live on a large Condo complex where each Unit has a unique number.  For several years, no matter how “updated” the GPS systems are, the numbers on the ground and on the GPS are far apart.  Normally this would be merely amusing, but the Emergency Services in the Municipality use GPS and I have found myself several times in the past year giving verbal directions to a “lost” ambulance on an emergency call.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I voted yes on this poll but after a weekend I had using the GPS in my phone and getting lost ALL weekend long, my trust is broken.

    However, I have a friend who travels with me quite a bit.  She’s hooked on paper maps and drove me nuts with them on our last jaunt together.  In the end, though, she was right all the time while the GPS – not so much.

  • cjr001

    I *generally* trust my GPS (Garmin) device, but yes, it has steered me wrong occasionally. I think the worst of it is when locations go out of business it seems the only way that the data gets updated is if a user reports it. Which happens too often.

    But I also had an incident where for some bloody reason it told me to get off the highway… and then take the on-ramp back onto the highway. I became instantly distracted by what the stupid thing was telling me to do to the point that I almost missed the stop sign at the bottom of the off-ramp.

    I certainly wonder sometimes who programmed these things.

  • bodega3

    On a side note to this, don’t you just love it when you mess with the GPS lady…or are we just the only ones?  We are good at seeing something that interests us and taking a quick turn to check it out.  She isn’t good with change :-)!

  • Raven_Altosk

    One time I programmed the name of a restaurant into my GPS. It was a nice, upscale place I was talking my GF to for her birthday. Imagine my surprise when I’m directed to a STRIP CLUB in the worst part of town.

    Apparently the club and the restaurant had very similar names and I made the mistake of relying on my iPhone to find the restaurant by name and not checking the address.

    I still haven’t heard the end of that…

  • Alex Freiday

    My mom and I were on a road trip in her BMW which has a a built in GPS. Everytime we broke from our route for gas/rest stop etc. The GPS lady had a fit. “Make a U-turn at the next light” then we go straight at the light and she says “Take a left to get back on the freeway” she very desperate to get us on the right route. She does not like change…I think it took us unitl near the end of the trip to figure out how to change her accent…I think it was French or English. =D It is definately amusing.

  • TravelingSalesman

    OK, so you gotta figure that when your GPS takes you through Lost Valley, it’s NOT the Valley that’s gonna’ be lost.  And I figure you saw the “Park” in Whitley Gardens is just an old picnic table under a dead tree.

  • Nigel Appleby

    I have had a TomTom for several years and rely on it, in fact it’s so old the rechargeable battery doesn’t but I don’t want to replace it yet. It has taken me astray when road alterations are so recent that the map updates haven’t caught up yet – the paper maps of the area had the same problem.
    As a retired Air Force navigator I learned early on in my career that maps are out of date before they are published because of processing time. The same problem exists with GPS systems although I think changes are more easily and more quickly implemented with digital systems.
    I keep the maps in mine up to date and I think that’s the secret to minimising any problems as much as possible, plus awareness of the general geography/location. 

  • jerryatric

    Took my GPS rather than rent one from car rental company. Great idea as it took me everywhere I had to go to. This included areas in 2 different states. It took me out of the way (slightly) on 1 occasion only. It saved me time & arguments with the wife & paper maps. A great item for the car!


     You read my mind…we also like our paper maps, getting lost, a little fight, etc…..Though I’ve never tried GPS and don’t own a smart phone.  :)

  • Good one! Have we become too predictable? You forgot to add:

    7. Put a sign on your car saying “Fragile, do not load sideways” and
    8. Leave your friggin’ dog AT HOME.

  • Maybe it knew all the good ball players are Hispanic (?)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Nope, not the only ones.  Ours is named “Stella” and it frosts her no end when we turn to the paper maps and ignore her.

  • Miami510


    There’s a term used in sailing called “dead reckoning,”
    which when applied to driving is a general idea of where you are in the entire
    trip.  I love my GPS device, but it’s
    comforting to also relate to a map or Google maps before the trip to have a general
    idea of the direction you want to travel.

    When my GPS unit was new, I kept it on even when I knew
    where I was.  I too noticed that the GPS
    directions were not the way I knew where to drive.  I mentioned this to a more experienced user
    and found that often (and this was the case for me) the setting of the unit was
    for highways.

     GPS units can be set
    for “no tolls” or “scenic routes” which is often not the most direct

    If you have a unit which offers such choices, check if you
    want the most direct route, the route with less traffic, the routes that use
    highways… or not.

  • janross53

    Yes, I do trust them – unfortunately! We spent a great deal of time wandering around Tucson trying to find the Inns at El Rancho Merlita. I had not paid enough attention to their directions, which specifically said not to use a GPS or even Google maps because they were all wrong. Annoying and they said it happened all the time to them!

  • jonaselliott

    They may give you the most direct route, or the fastest, but not the safest. Followed GPS routing from Ottawa to Florida through a very devastated northeastern US city with with boarded-up windows and abandoned cars. Felt a bit uncomfortable but a cop pulled up beside in an SUV and showed me how to get back onto the Interstate. On the up side, saw a part of the US I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Another time found myself in a narrow street in a rough area of Tampa where I was trapped at a railway crossing in front of an SUV full of rowdies. Everything worked out fine but those incidents made me a bit nervous. Still use GPS but also ask locals at gas stations and convenience stores for supplemental info.

  • Stephen0118

    Most of the time I do (although I voted no). The funniest moment that I had with a GPS was when I was in San Diego with my family a couple of years ago. We were looking for a Pizza Hut. Our GPS showed us one nearby. We went there, only to find out that the Pizza Hut was located on a Naval Base. Luckily the Navy personnel at the gate was very understanding and let us turn around.

  • bodega3

    Sounds like a car version of the Hokey Pokey :-)

  • bodega3

    There needs to be a selction called, The Most Sensible Route”.

  • Not quite GPS, but I had a MapPoint map that instead of telling me to turn left, turn right, and drive right into the ocean, being on the east coast of Florida.  The sad thing was, yes, I could have turned right onto the beach and kept going.  I decided to turn left to my desired destination.

    Recently, my daughter-in-law moved, and in trying to get to her new apartment, my Garmin wanted me to jump from the road I was on up to the overpass to get to there.  We got there, a half-hour late…

  • We were in Spain a couple of years ago and had a Garmin with European maps,which was invaluable, although the female voice used NO Spanish accent so sometimes we had hard time figuring out what street she was talking about!  One time we were going to a little town and we could not find it on our paper map at all, but the GPS got us there.
    My husband has On Star in his car and we don’t use it routinely, but there have been times when we’ve been very close to our destination but can’t find it so we use it, only to hear that we’re 500 yards from where we want to go!

  • DReinig

    The best GPS navigation is Android’s!

  • lorcha

    I trust GPS, the same way I trust anything: Trust, but Verify!

  • I don’t usually use GPS (I have a TomTom), but when I do I ALWAYS carry a paper map with me for areas that are new to me.  Many times the GPS tells me I am off route (out in a field somewhere) paralleling the road that I am actually driving on??!!  Sometimes, it had me taking some dirt road, which I knew was wrong, so I stayed on my route (verified by the paper map).  Like they say, a computer is only as good as the human that programmed it!

  • sacbee

    I generally don’t post from this work account, but it seems appropriate to share this article we published last about how using gps in Death Valley can make the name quite literal.

  • kanehi

    I don’t trust cell phone GPS because you need a cell signal in order for it to work.  I use a dedicated GPS unit instead.

  • Christina Conte

    Had some problems with our Garmin, especially in Ireland, but last weekend the GPS in our Mercedes sent us on a wild goose chase for an El Pollo Loco in Camarillo…ended up in the middle of a residential neighborhood!

    However, humans and maps can have the same results:  got lost in the Hollywood Hills a few weeks ago after giving my 14 year old daughter the Thomas Guide. I pointed out our current location and the end location and told her to give me directions-we ended up on the wrong side of the mountain at a dead end! When she showed me where she was taking us, she had been looking at a hiking trail and thought it was a road!!! :)

  • Hertz agents get a little up set when I refer to their (upsold GPS) as everlost… then I ask them if they have ever used it… none of them have… funny that… we used to live in jersey city, nj, everlost couldn’t even get you safely out of jersey city to  I-95… 7 years later, still the same problem… I find the garmin nuvo I have is better,  and if I get really desperate, I turn on google maps on the android phone (connected to the car battery, maps kills the battery life IMHO) and see where that will take me…

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I remember reading that story when it came out originally.  Very sad.

  • Michelle C

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read the title.   This reminded me of something that happened last year.  We were on our way from Vegas to Great Basin National Park and in the middle of nowhere, Nevada.    About half way there we were going to stop in this no-stop-light town.  The GPS directed us up this 2 lane road up the side of a small mountain.  On the way up it kept saying “turn right now.”   There was no right…only the edge of a cliff.   Our GPS was trying to kill us.  

  • Ann Lamoy

    I’ve changed mine to the British guy’s voice (that I’ve named Colin) and  sometimes I deliberately take a wrong turn just to here him say :Recalculating…Take a right at the next light…” etc. It almost sounds like he is getting more and more peeved with me when I continue to take wrong turns.

  • Carchar

    We don’t always obey Emily, our British-accented GPS. Our 5-year old grandson wanted to know why, when Emily gets angry, she always says, “Recalculating!”

  • I never rely on the driving directions feature of a GPS, usually using them only to look up addresses.  I take long road trips, often in isolated areas, but what I do is carefully plan my route for the day in the morning, using a combination of online maps, paper maps, and occasionally good old fashioned human directions if I can’t figure out where to go.  It might slow you down getting started by 15 minutes or so in the morning, but that’s way better than getting lost and/or routed through a bad part of town because of blind allegiance to the GPS.  Also beware that while generally pretty accurate, even the regular online Google Maps can lead you to dead ends due to “broken segments” of roadway – two segments that do indeed exist, but are separated by a barricade due to a ruined section, demolished bridge, etc.  You’ll be highly annoyed at having to turn around and backtrack should this happen.

    I would also suggest NEVER relying on a GPS to navigate through national parks.  As the linked Sacramento Bee story above suggests, there are numerous problems with blocked/closed/nonexistent roads and even bike trails showing up as driveable roads in a GPS database.  Always use an official park map; you can even get copies online for free if you want to do some advance planning.

  • Char James-Tanny

    “Mostly” should have been an option ;-)

    I use Waze (smartphone app) most of the time. I’ve found some mistakes (once it told me that the restaurant I wanted was in between two exits on the Mass. turnpike), but it includes a “correction” system. I can go online and file a report, and the maps and directions get updated (usually within a day or so).

    What’s nice about Waze is that it also includes user commentary. As you’re driving along, if you see an accident or construction, you can post a message so that all other Wazers on the route know what’s coming. And if your speed drops, it asks if you’re stuck in traffic and updates the route’s color-coding. (Note that “you” typically means “your passenger”, because it’s against the law in Mass. to send text messages while driving.)

  • IGoEverywhere

    Most errors on a gps occor due to mis settings. Learn all the directions and nuances for your product, then go off on your next road trip!

  • judyserienagy

    Gotta use the GPS in conjunction with a paper map.  Wonderful advice about updating maps before a road trip.  I would have never thought about it, being a newbie GPS person. 

     And Chris … NEVER travel on less than half a tank of gas!  Just ain’t worth the stress.  Besides, it’s good to get everybody out running around the car for a few minutes.

  • Just this weekend I was using a GPS/maps app on my smartphone to get walking directions to a place c. 1/4 mile away. The directions it showed looked odd and I realized the thing had located me in the center of a large multilane highway, a hundred yards from where I actually was. I could not get the thing to recalculate the route … it simply refused.

    The only thing I could do was close the app, reopen it in map-display mode (rather than navigation/directions mode), press the GPS locator button, and literally force the thing to get the highest-resolution reading. Only then could I put in my destination and get a reasonable route.
    It turns out the app bases its directions on a reading produced at the lowest level of GPS resolution, unless you have already forced it to a higher resolution.

    The glaring question is: “Why on earth was it designed this way!?” Why didn’t the app just immediately get its best-possible reading, right at the start? Why did I have to play with the app in order to improve its results?

    On top of that, the steps I needed to take in order to get the directions (i.e. the incorrect ones) in the first place, was ridiculous. I had to open the app, press a button in order to type in a destination, then press a button in the results map to get directions, then I had to press yet another “navigate” button in order to get it to actually show them to me. Huh? In what twisted universe does that make even the slightest sense?

    I agree that the quality of maps built into GPS devices/software is an issue, but beyond that, there are just way too many poor design decisions built into GPS software & devices, additionally. They also need to be cleaned up.

  • Susan Fox

    I’ve been on the road twice now with two different people with two different GPS units and they screwed up royally both times. However, Maps on my iPad seriously rocks. But….I use its route choices as a “serving suggestion” only and never stop paying attention myself to where I’m going.

  • y_p_w

    I know that sometimes the best directions aren’t given.  I’ve tried it out in my own neighborhood, and the directions I get are contorted just to get to the freeway.  By now I know the best way to get to the main streets, but that little box always tells me to take a route that I know adds both time and distance.

  • When I go to visit a friend in England, I love it when he uses his GPS because it says in British game show host voice “This is NOT the winning way!”

  • This past winter, a friend was driving at night in the middle of nowhere following the directions on her GPS.  Unfortunately she missed the sign that said road closed (and the GPS hadn’t been updated for the closure) due to the bridge being out over the river.  Thankfully she’s alive to tell the tale.

  • Lindabator

    At least yours didn’t insist you turn right – right into the lake!  HAHA

  • Lindabator

    That is TOO good, Raven!  

  • Joel Wechsler

    If the format of delivery has no bearing, why are we not reading story after story of people who were misled by following their paper maps? There is little doubt that paper maps in general are more accurate than computer generated instructions.

  • E G Melby

    one of my siblings used a GPS years ago to get to Disney World.  It brought her to the employee entrance parking/gate! 

  • I have to give a yes and no to this.

    I bought a Garmin with North American and European maps 3 years ago for our trip to Ireland. We spent 5 days driving around the country, (Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny) and it was perfect every time, never sending us the wrong way. I don’t know how many times we would have gotten lost without it.

    I update my North American maps quarterly. Last year we were in Galveston, TX when we had some car problems. According to the GPS, the auto chain we use had a location nearby so we drove to it.  When we got there, all we could find was an apartment complex. I spoke to a police  officer who was nearby, he told me the tire company had sold the property to the apartment developer more than six years ago, but the GPS apparently did not know that.

    We drove from Central Texas to the Texas Panhandle this weekend. GPS worked well on the way up there. On the way back however it kept trying to send me on the shortest route (through a lot of small towns) rather than the slightly longer route that put us on 300+ miles of interstates and only took a few moments longer. So, as we drove on, I got 2+ hours of instructions to go the other way, make a u-turn, get off the highway as soon as possible. Eventually it understood where I was going, routed me correctly, and took more than an hour off of our expected arrival time.

    So, I have had good and bad with GPS, I trust my Garmin more than my phone GPS, but feel that an understanding of the area I am driving in is crucial to getting to my location successfully.

  • I personally love the Hertz Always Lost and it telling me to turn right now while on the middle of a bridge in Vancouver.

  • Also, with living in Las Vegas, I used the GPS on my cell to find a place for an interview. I never left the 95 and it kept recalculating my route because it kept insisting I got off.

  • Joe Farrell

    The riskest part of directions is the sketchy neighborhoods they can send you through . . . when GPS was a red on grey screen with an arrow pointing the way-  my GPS sent me thru a pretty bad part of town – my new rental car had tomatoes thrown at it – 

    Even harder to the apps that do directions and to the self-contained GPS itself is do you keep people out of bad parts of town – and how do you tell the boundaries of those areas  . . .. the bad press and the implications of doing so – in the event nothing happens – and in the event does  – make programming routes an interesting business – 

  • Trust but verify.  And use some common sense, please.  I’m in the PNW, where we’ve had several tragedies attributable to GPS devices sending people on “shortcuts” over closed, unmaintained logging roads.  That’s all too often a fatal error– remember the Kim family.  If it doesn’t look like much of a road, assume it’s not much of a road and call for local directions.


  • Kate Tyminski

    On our last trip it sent us over a very narrow bridge (very tight), down a dirt road only to stop in time before we could not get out pulling our Airstream. Luckily a  home owner came out, knowing we were in trouble, showed us a place we could circle around, so we backed up  quite a ways to it and he sent us to the right road.    

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