April 18, 2008

To Follow Blindly

It seems like we’re hearing more and more of these stories, where someone follows their in-dash GPS unit somewhere that they shouldn’t, like into a lake or over a cliff. This time it was a chartered bus in Seattle that drove under a bridge with low clearance and sheared off most of the roof. The driver’s excuse? The GPS told him to drive that way.

Now of course this is idiotic. The driver should have seen the bridge coming, and should have seen the height limits and the flashing lights. But more than that it’s indicative of a larger problem, where people so hate reading maps and doing any kind of trip planning that they’ll take any shortcuts available to them. Even if it means trusting completely in a computer that’s trying to read a map, and not doing a good job. Always remember: computers are stupid. And even the best GPS unit is going to send you driving around in circles sooner or later. Or right into a bridge. Better to just turn off the voice and use the GPS as a map, and figure out where you’re going on your own.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

Comments (1)

Comments RSS - Trackback - Write Comment

  1. Sean Harding says:

    So, I completely agree that this was very stupid, and it’s a horrible idea to blindly follow instructions from a GPS. But I have a hard time blaming this on peoples’ unwillingness to read maps. I just looked at four different paper maps I have that cover the area, and none of them mention anything about the height restrictions on the bridge. So they’re not giving you any more information than the GPS did. You could just as easily plan this flawed route doing painstaking routing on paper as you could with a GPS.

    I think the blame here lies with failing to pay attention to the (numerous and obvious) road signs, not with the method of route planning…

    Posted April 18, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

Write Comment