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Earth News Science

Drivers Need To Forget Their GPS 622

HughPickens.com writes: Greg Milner writes in the NYT that an American tourist in Iceland directed the GPS unit in his rental car to guide him from Keflavik International Airport to a hotel in nearby Reykjavik, and ended up 250 icy miles away in Siglufjordur, a fishing village on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. Mr. Santillan apparently explained that he was very tired after his flight and had "put his faith in the GPS." In another incident, a woman in Belgium asked GPS to take her to a destination less than two hours away and two days later, she turned up in Croatia. Finally disastrous incidents involving drivers following disused roads and disappearing into remote areas of Death Valley in California have became so common that park rangers gave them a name: "death by GPS." "If we're being honest, it's not that hard to imagine doing something similar ourselves" says Milner. "Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating."

Could society's embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps? Julia Frankenstein, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg's Center for Cognitive Science, says the danger of GPS is that "we are not forced to remember or process the information — as it is permanently 'at hand,' we need not think or decide for ourselves." "Next time you're in a new place, forget the GPS device. Study a map to get your bearings, then try to focus on your memory of it to find your way around. City maps do not tell you each step, but they provide a wealth of abstract survey knowledge. Fill in these memories with your own navigational experience, and give your brain the chance to live up to its abilities."
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Drivers Need To Forget Their GPS

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:45PM (#51489643)

    >> "death by GPS."

    So, now is it finally legal to slap the phone out of pedestrians hands when they're about to stumble off the curb (whether into a crosswalk or not). I know I already honk at drivers who are staring at their dashboard (or their lap) as they inch through an intersection or change lanes on a highway.

    • I know I already honk at drivers who are staring at their dashboard (or their lap) as they inch through an intersection or change lanes on a highway.

      I keep telling my wife that this is why I want to install a really loud air horn in my car, think semi truck loud, but she says no.

      • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:30PM (#51490033)

        Get a railroad locomotive horn. Don't fuck around with half steps.

      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @06:00PM (#51490343) Homepage Journal

        I keep telling my wife that this is why I want to install a really loud air horn in my car, think semi truck loud, but she says no.

        I'm sorry...why the fuck are you asking your wife about what you want to do with YOUR car...?

        Even with that...why would you listen..it is your car, enjoy man.

        Grow a pair and do what you want on your own car....

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:47PM (#51489647)

    No. This is silly. You're better off having GPS than not having it - just don't shut off your common sense at the same time.

    • by eumoria ( 2741315 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:52PM (#51489687)
      Yes, the woman who drove for two days to a destination 2 hours away has nothing to do with the GPS. That has everything to do with stupid.
      • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:29PM (#51490015)

        She drove from Belgium to Croatia. She had to cross into 4 countries. With 5 different languages.

        Just how far out of it do you have to be?

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:34PM (#51490065)

          My guess is that she drove to Croatia to hookup with someone she met online, and then she made up the story about the defective GPS as a cover story. Since everyone believed the story, maybe she isn't as dumb as you think.

          • by dinfinity ( 2300094 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @06:39PM (#51490751)

            That sounds like a much more reasonable explanation.

            The official story makes no sense at all: "Sabine Moreau, 67, had intended to drive to Brussels from her home in Solre-sur-Sambre to pick up a friend from the train station - a journey of just 38 miles."

            Forget about the road signs, refueling, sleeping, etc.
            What happened to the friend? Did they not communicate at all? Something like: "Hey, you were supposed to pick me up half an hour ago, where are you?"
            I take it she didn't think that keeping somebody waiting at a train station for two days is acceptable, let alone helpful.

            OnTopic:
            The solution to this 'problem' is deathly simple (and it is not 'forget your GPS device'). If you plan a route in reasonable unknown terrain, switch to a 2D north-top map view, zoom out and inspect the route. Your geographical knowledge will actually grow and you can double-check whether the route makes sense and if the device fails, you have some memory of where you want to end up and how to get there.

      • When the road signs turn into a different language, you know you're in trouble.
      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @08:28PM (#51491529) Homepage Journal

        Yes, the woman who drove for two days to a destination 2 hours away has nothing to do with the GPS. That has everything to do with stupid.

        And yet, these SAME women will bitch and moan at us for not asking directions.

        Geez, first we gave them the vote, and then drivers licenses, and the world has gone downhill ever since then....

        ;)

    • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:53PM (#51489695)

      You're better off having GPS than not having it

      Depends on how you're defining it. Following word-by-word directions as seems to be so popular today--you're better off without that. Having a map, on which GPS will show you where you are, that's great. You know where you are and what's around you. But following directions blindly--and you don't have any choice but to follow directions blindly if you don't have a map--you're not better off with that.

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:00PM (#51489763) Journal

        TFS said

        Could society's embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps?

        I delivered pizza for a few years, before GPS, and a few hours of taking orders will disabuse you of this naive notion that most people have "cognitive maps". Most people do not know where they live! They can't tell you the nearest major intersection. What they know is a sequence of steps to follow to get to their house.

        "Turn left at the big tree. Turn right where the church was before it burned down. Turn left where Johnny was hit by that drunk drive last year. Look for the red house."

        I'm only slightly exaggerating. I really do encourage everyone to use maps, to learn to change your "pathing" dynamically when conditions change, to know where you are not just the steps you took to get there. To quote the REM song: "Stand in the place where you work. Now face north. Think about direction; wonder why you haven't before ". Can you do it without looking anything up?

        • Seconded. I used to work animal control, which necessitated fielding calls and tips all over town, and most people couldn't even tell you the name of the street they lived on.
          • by swilver ( 617741 )

            Really? So they didn't know their own address, of which the street name is part...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          SO MUCH THIS.

          Everyone loves to go on about cognitive maps and how good they are with directions, but putting them in a random nearby town and asking directions back home and they are confused to high hell. Never mind an unknown town.
          Most people just barely know the directions to their homes from their own town!
          Ask them the street and less than half likely know it by heart!
          God forbid you ask them their phone number. This generation of people barely know that.

          It is true that studying maps can improve a pers

        • I used to do delivery. 99% of the time I ignored directions because the package had an address on it, and I could use a map. I learned the hard way not to ignore that 1% where their "folksy directions" were key to getting there. You'd have hidden entrances, missing numbers, new streets and damaged bridges. They knew about that stuff. I didn't.

          Really though, unless you're address is tricky like that, just give me the address. We had excellent maps and the directions were almost always wasting my time i

      • by Xolotl ( 675282 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:04PM (#51489793) Journal

        Agreed, I almost always have my GPS muted, just using it as a moving map with live traffic information (Google Maps FTW) and ETA. And I look at the ETA and journey time before I start to see if it looks reasonable.

        That said, the Belgian woman was lying and using "GPS made me do it" as cover. No one is that stupid, for one thing you can't drive for two days straight without breaks and rest, which would be a dead give-away to anyone with enough cognitive function to actually be able to drive. Not to mention signposts in several different languages along the way

        .

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Hate to break it to you guys, but the GPS will more reliably find you an optimum route than you can find yourself. That is because the GPS "knows" more than you do: current traffic conditions, road closures, etc. I know people pooh pooh GPS directions and say "I know a faster way" but they really don't 90% of the time.
        • Hate to break it to you guys, but the GPS will more reliably find you an optimum route than you can find yourself. That is because the GPS "knows" more than you do: current traffic conditions, road closures, etc. I know people pooh pooh GPS directions and say "I know a faster way" but they really don't 90% of the time.

          Except when it doesn't. Try using a TomTom to go from Portland, ME to Boston-Logan Airport. I just ignored the damned thing and went down I-95 to I-90 and headed east on 90. If I would have listened to the damned thing I would have been on a death crawl along highway 1.

          I've also had a few hilarious incidents in France where navigation directed me into fields and onto private roads that were locked and gated.

        • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @06:29PM (#51490645)

          It depends. The GPS is only as good as the data it's been given. So I've found that for long trips, it's generally good, but it can make some really bad calls sometimes. For instance, I frequently drive about an hour north from my house to DC. My car's GPS (using HERE maps) gives me a completely sensible route, which I follow. Google Maps, however, wants me to take an early left turn onto some windy little single-lane country road, probably because it might technically be 100 feet shorter in absolute distance that way. But it's a much slower route: I tried it once or twice and got stuck behind very slow drivers. I never went that way again because the slightly longer route is along main roads and doesn't have this problem.

          Also, very close to your destination, GPS can make errors. I'm thinking of one restaurant I used to frequent, where Google Maps would tell me to turn before the restaurant and go an extra half-mile in a big circle, all because it didn't think I could take a left turn into the restaurant's parking lot, when in fact there's a turn lane there for that very purpose.

          Basically, with GPS, you need to zoom out and look at the route it's chosen for you, and make sure it isn't doing anything really stupid. And if you're not familiar with an area, you need to be extra cautious because it'll happily guide you onto small residential streets or other stupid routes. It also helps to have multiple GPS units running at once. My car's system works pretty well and of course is well-integrated, but it doesn't have traffic updates or show alternate routes in real-time (it's based on stored maps). Google Maps does those things, but more frequently makes poor choices for routes (tiny country roads like I mentioned above). Having two different systems in parallel can help you cross check them against each other. The bottom line: never fully trust a GPS system.

          I really should install Waze and try that out to see how it compares to Google Maps.

        • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday February 11, 2016 @06:32PM (#51490673) Homepage Journal

          I have mixed experiences with my Garmin Nuvi. On one hand, it often comes up with a really brilliant solution that seems daft right up until you magically arrive at your destination by the most brilliant route possible. On the other hand, sometimes it sends me several blocks out of the way for literally no reason whatsoever. It doesn't save me any stop signs or anything. I use it anyway, and mostly just trust it because sometimes it knows something really important like how to avoid an inexplicable one-way street, but I'd like it to put a little more effort into avoiding those pointless cases. And yes, I have traffic, but never has it lit up the map in one of those cases to suggest that it was doing me a favor.

          Oh look, I have a 5 minute posting delay. How quaint.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Hate to break it to you guys, but the GPS will more reliably find you an optimum route than you can find yourself. That is because the GPS "knows" more than you do: current traffic conditions, road closures, etc. I know people pooh pooh GPS directions and say "I know a faster way" but they really don't 90% of the time.

          Maybe your navigation system does, but GPS knows absolutely nothing. Unless your maps are up to date it doesn't even know where the road leads, much less how the current conditions are.

      • Following word-by-word directions as seems to be so popular today--you're better off without that.

        You don't follow word by word directions without looking at the estimated time to destination and thinking maybe 2 days is more than 2 hours. This isn't even about switching off your brain as much as it is just plain stupid. GPS devices give you plenty of redundant information to determine where you will be taken:
        - Route overview
        - Time to destination
        - Distance to destination
        - Often warnings that routes will cross country borders.

        Most people can follow blindly and be perfectly fine. But this article is talki

      • by paulpach ( 798828 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:30PM (#51490031)

        You're better off having GPS than not having it

        Depends on how you're defining it. Following word-by-word directions as seems to be so popular today--you're better off without that. Having a map, on which GPS will show you where you are, that's great. You know where you are and what's around you. But following directions blindly--and you don't have any choice but to follow directions blindly if you don't have a map--you're not better off with that.

        So, you are saying we are better off taking the eyes off the road to look down on a map while doing 70 mph?

        Have some people died because the GPS took them to the wrong place? sure, I have no trouble believing it.
        But how many deaths have been prevented by GPS because drivers were not distracted trying to figure out where to go?

    • The Boy Scouts offer a merit badge in mapping. I suspect the real problem is that while maps are common, large numbers of folks never really learned how to use them. Sounds to me like an elementary-school class on the topic is in order.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by oakgrove ( 845019 )

        I have never figured out how any adult could possibly not know how to read a map. It just seems so blindingly obvious. You simply look at the damn thing. Isn't visual pattern recognition humanity's greatest advantage? I seriously don't get it. Maybe good old fashioned laziness is the problem.

        • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:16PM (#51489893) Homepage Journal
          You also need to look at it in the right orientation. You also need to know which roads connect and which roads are overpasses, etc. You also need to know which roads have a higher speed limit, more lanes, etc. You also need to know how to estimate non-linear distances, or be able to use the distance markers on the map. There is more to it then just "looking at it".
        • I have never figured out how any adult could possibly not know how to read a map. It just seems so blindingly obvious. You simply look at the damn thing. Isn't visual pattern recognition humanity's greatest advantage?

          No, you don't simply "look at the damn thing". You also have to be able to relate the information on the map to landmarks in the real world - a much more difficult proposition not only because the real world is a spatial relationship problem (as compared to the pattern relationship problem of

      • The Boy Scout merit badge is on orienteering which goes well beyond the basic skill to read a map. The mastery of basic map skills is taught to the little cub scouts, those below the middle of 5th grade. Last fall I taught 10 second graders the basics of how to read and use a map at camp.
    • You're better off having GPS than not having it

      I wonder if it's actually the GPS at fault or if it's the personal assistant software like Siri and Cortana? If I trusted Siri to get "How do I get to ..." correct then I would have been drowned a few times by now. Whenever I ask her "How do I get to [blah] Annerley Road" she selects a route to Annalee Road, South Ockenden - in England, on the other side of the planet!

  • GPS is just an aid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:47PM (#51489655) Homepage
    I'm old enough to have learned how to navigate without GPS or even maps. I use GPS nowadays, but only as an aid (ETA is fairly accurate). I've seen it make enough mistakes to not ever trust it 100%.

    Learn the basics: the "sun rises in the east and sets in the west" type of stuff. Learn how roads are numbered: north/south are generally odd numbered, etc.. Learn which way the mountains in your area are oriented. Buy a map and get acquainted with the area and which way the main roads are laid out.

    It ain't that hard to find your way around. I've spent nearly forty years going to places I've never been to before and I haven't been lost once.
    • by Wonko ( 15033 ) <thehead@patshead.com> on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:54PM (#51489701) Homepage Journal

      I'm old enough to have learned how to navigate without GPS or even maps. I use GPS nowadays

      Jesus Christ Potatoes! How old ARE you?! They had already invented maps long before I was old enough to drive!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:54PM (#51489703)

      You navigated before maps? Moses, is that you?

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      I've stayed in hotels where i don't know the local street layout. Keeping track of the position of the Sun or Moon when you go out to a restaurant or cafe is one simple way of telling which direction to go back home. Though this only works for short trips. Streets are usually numbered away from downtown. so if the street numbers are going downwards, you are heading into town. Streets that branch in an angle less than 90 degrees also point towards downtown. Satellite dishes point towards South. Moss usually

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:48PM (#51489659)

    The problem isn't that the GPS is wrong, the problem is that the user is in error. In the Iceland case, the driver made a typo and wound up going to a similarly-named road 250 miles away. Had he entered the correct street name, he would likely have made it to his destination without a problem. I'm guessing the Belgium-Croatia case is similar.

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      I agree. The technical problem here was that the user managed to enter an incorrect destination. Common sense *should* come into play once you've driven a good bit further than what you expected to reach the place .... but that's kind of irrelevant to the point. A GPS is supposed to navigate you to the correct location.

      My experience using many different GPS systems over the years is that all of them fail in various ways at handling user input well. For example, I have a RHR-730N GPS stereo in my 2014 Jeep

      • by Scoth ( 879800 )

        Most of the wrong-street issues I've run into with GPS (mostly with Google Maps and/or Waze) have been situations where there's a Somewhere St. in two different nearby town names in a close area (suburbs of a city, maybe) or something like a Somewhere Street NE and Somewhere Street SE near each other that have the same address numbers. I've had a couple situations where I'm unfamiliar with the destination but the two addresses are close enough that they aren't obviously wrong unless I spend some time studyi

      • I hear you, not all GPS units are equal.

        The one in my older 2012 Yukon was worthless, really terrible. They have gotten much better in the 2015 and later models, you can just talk to them now (mostly).

        My 2014 Ford has the MyTouch system, which is ok, but not great. I'm looking forward to replacing it with something with Sync3, from the demos I've seen, voice search has taken a big leap forward.

        ---

        Side note: I haven't figured out why the car companies don't just put Apple/Google in the cars. When I ask Si

      • I have found several towns with the same street name. In one case in adjacent towns both have a winter street. Both winter streets are within 3 miles as the crow flies of each other. Neither road touches the other one.

        Me personally I use the map but turn off turn by turn and switch out to the overhead view. As I don't like the isometric view most maps use except when dealing with multi lane highways that exit on both sides.

    • by Catmeat ( 20653 )
      The system is at fault as it is catastrophically intolerant of operator error. Which is all too likely if a person is entering street names in another language. And the operator is at fault for not doing common sense checks on a system that is flawed for the aforementioned reason.
    • The problem isn't that the GPS is wrong, the problem is that the user is in error. In the Iceland case, the driver made a typo and wound up going to a similarly-named road 250 miles away. Had he entered the correct street name, he would likely have made it to his destination without a problem. I'm guessing the Belgium-Croatia case is similar.

      One problem I've seen is that phone and small screen GPS sucks at providing you with the overall picture. Now, yes, I'm old school and grew up consulting actual maps, and regularly obtaining updated paper road maps. I would generally get one of those atlases that had a highway map for the whole USA, as well as a more detailed one for each state. I would then get updated maps on occasion for the specific state I was going to/traveling through.

      Anyways, what I'm seeing here is a classic problem they're cons

    • If the driver had looked at the route overview which is presented by every GPS he should have realised something was wrong when his "nearby" hotel was described on a map which showed:
      a) the entire country
      b) a 250mile trip.
      c) a 4 hour drive in good traffic.

      This isn't user error, because user would imply someone using the device rather than just mashing random buttons and going for wherever it suggested.

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:48PM (#51489663)

    And I thought people driving into a lake because the GPS told them to turn right was an episode of The Office.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:50PM (#51489673)
    Some of the GPS units I've used just start giving you street directions right away after you enter a destination. The better ones I've used (including Google Maps) start with an overhead view of your entire route, then zoom in to the street-by-street view. That makes it rather simple to spot silly errors like driving from San Francisco to Springfield, Missouri, instead of Springfield, California.
    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      You are absolutely right, but there is still one type of error which is hard to avoid unless yo ualready know the details of the road: road closures at mountain passes in winter. Plenty of people end up in the snow at the end of a small road because the road is perfectly drivable... after june !
    • Some of the GPS units I've used

      ALL of the GPS units I've used give you a time to destination. If the time is 4 hours for a local "nearby" hotel in a country you can cross in 4 hours, or the time is 2 days instead of 2 hours it's not longer a user interface problem, it's a remove the user from the gene pool problem and hope they haven't infected anyone with their DNA.

  • by zamboni1138 ( 308944 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:55PM (#51489707)

    These people are doomed to failure from the beginning. After learning how to operate a vehicle safely (note this apply's to almost any vehicle: car, bike, plane, boat, etc.) your second goal is to properly navigate that vehicle in the public domain. Most countries by now have implemented at least a basic form of navigation for at least a few forms of transport.

    For example, in a few weeks I will be driving from Reno to Las Vegas, NV. I have 100% confidence that I will not get lost at any point during this journey, with or without GPS. I already know the route I wish to take, which roads I will be using, which towns I will be passing through, and about how long it is between each town. I even know where I will probably stop for gas and lunch in Tonopah. I have a printed map, and know that for the most part I will be on US-95. The state has kindly marked these roads with signs that I can follow. If these people can't figure out that they should be going mostly East instead of mostly Southwest, and do so for days, even hours, GPS isn't the problem.

    • To get to Vegas from there, you go right, right, left, right. Not exactly a navigational challenge.

    • These people are doomed to failure from the beginning. After learning how to operate a vehicle safely

      Given that we're talking about a person who drove 2 days to a destination 2 hours away and crossed 4 countries in the process, or another person who went to a hotel "nearby" and spent 4 hours getting to the opposite side of Iceland (it's only about 250miles wide), what on earth makes you think they learnt how to operate a vehicle safety rather then getting a drivers license in a cereal box?

  • Socrates said the same things about the invention of writing. Ironically, what we know of what he said had to be written down in books such as Plato's The Phaedrus ...
  • by JD-1027 ( 726234 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:57PM (#51489729)
    So what is the other side of the statistic? How many times has a GPS unit sent someone in the correct direction, when a human would have driven the wrong way without the GPS?
  • And a piece of advice: never try to use the Google Maps navigator on a military base. I tried to use it once on an Army base (where the roads weren't clearly marked) and ended up out on an old tank course before I realized that Google Maps had no idea where the fuck it was.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:03PM (#51489783)

    Just wait for the auto drive cars to fail in the same way.

  • How about just viewing the map of the route given by the gps/phone/whatever before blindly going to the destination?
    How did these people survive before GPS?

  • by hottoh ( 540941 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:07PM (#51489811)
    It is navigation.
    Navigation software working with the navigation mapping software which is the problem described in fine /. summary.

    GPS is the fancy clocks floating about in space.

    .
  • I would be surprised if you are far more likely to be in an accident on a per-mile basis than a big GPS mishap.
  • From the linked article about deaths from GPS in Death Valley NP:

    The mapping people at the National Parks Service were unable to contact a human being at Google to update their map, but could talk to Tom Tom.

    I've heard that story also from other professional source.

    That doesn't absolve stupidity, but still, it's nice when maps mark the important stuff. But then, Google maps violates most of the rules of good cartography.

    Garmin's response to someone following their GPS half-way under a low bridge was, "Wou

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Garmin's response to someone following their GPS

      Garmin's maps suck. A few years ago, I decided to take a scenic route home by driving around the East side of Lake Stevens (Wash State) instead of the West (direct route). I figured my dashboard GPS would just say "recalculating" and direct me to my destination. But that part of the county is similar to the territory in Winter's Bone [imdb.com] or Deliverance [imdb.com]. I suspect Garmin just figured that there was nothing worth mapping that far out in the sticks because their map was blank. I tried it again with my hiking eTrex

  • ... to remake an old TV Series [youtube.com].

  • Whenever I go to a new city on business, I always make it a point to quickly study a zoomed-out map of the area just so I know a little bit about where I'm going. The thing about GPS is that it's always zoomed into the immediate area you're driving in, and the only info you (should be) looking at while driving is the distance to the next turn. Trying to navigate a dark road at night after a multi-hour flight while having the GPS barking orders at you is stressful enough, but not knowing anything about where

  • It is obvious that the programmers of these machines think that there are too many people and they are using these "mistakes" to eliminate the weakest among us.

    Either that or it is Skynet beginning to figure out how to kill humans.

  • by RatherBeAnonymous ( 1812866 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:14PM (#51489875)

    Back in the dark ages, about circa 2010, researchers found evidence that GPS may erode navigational ability.

    "Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were taken of older adults who were GPS and non-GPS users. The subjects accustomed to navigating by spatial means were found to have higher activity and a greater volume of grey matter in the hippocampus than those used to relying on GPS."

    http://phys.org/news/2010-11-r... [phys.org]

  • Like ONSTAR was in my Camaro, just verbal directions and arrows. I never used that once. I did have a tablet that I could mount to my dash so that it could display Navigation with a MAP so I could use my common sense to double check, in the off chance that the computer had picked an invalid route (or one through a bad neighborhood). Waze in particular saved me from a few hours-long traffic snarls that without its input I could not have gotten around, due to complete unfamiliarity with side streets in that a

  • When you're driving solo in unfamiliar territory, maps are a distraction at best and a menace at worst. Having had the misfortune of having to navigate by an incomplete map to a destination I've never been before, I know "Next time you're in a new place, forget the GPS device" is a line of bullshit. By all means, use common sense (e.g. do a sanity check of the computed route before setting off), but I'd much rather keep both eyes on the road where they belong, rather than have to spend my brain's CPU cycles

  • by jtownatpunk.net ( 245670 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:20PM (#51489925)

    It has to do with people who are cognitively damaged/incompetent and are unable to comprehend that "this shouldn't be".

    People have been wandering and getting lost long before GPS navigation was a consumer product. Ever since we've had an interstate system, people have been getting on the southbound ramp instead of northbound and winding up in Florida 2 days after they started the hour trip to visit the grandkids. Before that, they'd just wander into the wilderness and get eaten by a bear.

    If somebody enters a destination in their GPS and it says the estimated travel time is 3 hours and they know it's a 5 mile trip, it's not the GPS' fault if they shrug and start driving.

    Probably a form of mental illness.

  • Personally I think dead reckoning is innate. At least it feels that way to me. Like knowing it's about to rain, I "sense" I should be heading that way or this, instinctively I suppose, almost as if I'm being pulled, and if practice (or lack thereof) alters the effect, I haven't noticed anything so far, and I've been using using GPS for over a decade (props to HERE btw, best app for the phone, especially beyond towers). There are the odd minor digressions, like on the Vinyard last summer when my phone was co

  • Not always user error.

    One I was going to a office building. That basically had it's privet road as part of the parking lot called tower ln but the online maps sent me to the near by tower pl road that also has office building on / next to it. Same city about 3 miles or less apart. (I think it's fixed now)

    There is this one house where some times if you enter it to maps some times it will pull up the wrong place so much so that when they have some come over they need to say google maps is wrong.

    There is this

  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:22PM (#51489943)

    I do a lot of driving out in the forests and rural areas with GPS for navigation. I've noticed that I often need to be sure to set the GPS for Shortest Time rather than Shortest Distance. Setting the GPS to Shortest Distance can result in the GPS directing me via routes like 'Forestry Road #13' or worse.

    The other thing I've noticed is that I can start a trip in town using my phone GPS and get directions to a rural location (actually hiking trailhead) and then on return be somewhere with no cell signal and be unable to get return directions.

    I now travel with smart phone, stand-alone car GPS, and a paper map. I've occasionally had to resort to the paper map.

  • Just take two seconds after you get routing directions up to zoom out and verify it's going about where you want to go.

    I've driven in Iceland before and it's impossible to not go to Reykjavik if you pay even the least attention to signs, or just look at the map where you can see where Reykjavik is in relation to where you are driving.

    I really like using Waze to guide me, not even by giving directions (which I often ignore) but just to see what roads are around me while driving so I can quickly adjust pathin

  • How many died prior to GPS from just getting lost?
  • by fizzup ( 788545 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:25PM (#51489969)

    If some driver getting themselves lost is a news story, then GPS must be incredibly good at giving correct directions.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

    These are examples of really really dumb people not paying attention. if your GPS says, "drive 250 miles" to the hotel near your airport, and you blindly do it... you are an idiot.

    Drive 2 days away... again, idiot level.

    The problem is that all technology requires the user to have a modicum of intelligence. The examples in the story are of people that should not be allowed to drive a car let alone use a GPS.

  • I know people who are I just do what the GPS says even when I try to tell them some routes to take (some times the GPS gives poor routes or ones that like jump down this small 2 lane back road then turn turn turn.. vs the slightly longer / easier to fellow main roads. Some of them are apple uses so I hope that apple maps does not really mess them up some day.

  • They have their uses but if I rely on one too much, my mental compass turns off.
    I've got a ridiculously good mental compass (video games as a kid, I don't know?) but I almost always know what direction I'm facing, where I came from, where I'm headed to, what direction things face, etc.

    GPS can get me REALLY lost, when I disable my compass for too long, I end up with no idea where I am.

  • by spork invasion ( 4443495 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:32PM (#51490045)

    GPS isn't the problem here. Perhaps I'm being pedantic when I say that, but it needs to be said. If it were the problem, it would likely be obvious; the location fix would be totally wrong and the directions wouldn't make any sense. It might say to turn where there's no place to turn or, quite possibly, indicate you're not on a road at all when you actually are. The real problem is a combination of software issues, poor design, and user error.

    I do see some very strange routes that come out of some mapping software. I live in a city that's mostly a grid with some major north-south and east-west roads. If I plan my own route, I'll tend to stay on those main roads. That makes sense because the speed limits tend to be higher, there are fewer uncontrolled intersections, and the stoplights will be timed such that you're less likely to hit red lights on those roads. Mapping software often plots a course that zigzags through the streets. I suppose the software projects it saves a few seconds, but I'm not convinced it's the optimal route. I make trips east to St. Louis from time to time, and Google Maps gives me some bizarre alternate routes. If I'm heading east on I-70, an alternate route that follows I-64 (or if you're from St. Louis it's Highway 40) makes sense. It's probably a time difference of a minute or two. However, many times the alternate route offered involves taking some state highway down to I-44 or something like that, which can add an hour to the trip. I have no clue why this is a logical alternate route, but it's what the software finds. Thankfully I know not to consider those routes.

    Poor design can be an issue. If it's easy for the user to select the wrong destination, that's a big problem. That certainly sounds like the case here in the linked story. If the user can't easily verify that the destination entered is really where they want to go, then poor design can be to blame.

    That said, none of this is a substitute for common sense. If a route looks really strange or if the estimated time seems way too long, that's because it probably is. Driving for two days and crossing international borders for a trip that's supposed to be two hours long cannot simply be blamed on mapping software. The user is an idiot. At minimum, you have to cross two international borders to get from Belgium to Croatia. Quite possibly it was more than two, which should have been a huge warning sign that the user was too foolish to pay attention to.

    GPS is a wonderful tool. I tend not to rely heavily on it to give me precise directions. I tend to follow the approximate route if it looks reasonable to me. I also use it to tell me where I am and roughly how long it is until the next turn and when I need to watch for particular road signs. That said, it's no substitute for common sense, knowing how to read a map, and watching the signs along the road.

  • I live in a rural mountain location, and know that certain map software, therefore certain GPS units, give really horrible directions to my location--as in sending you on a long detour on a brutally rough & steep dirt road through a state park several miles from me, or in another case giving directions that are flat-out impossible to follow. I explain this to service people before giving them the actually simple directions. And yet, some of them go ahead and use their GPS and get totally lost, even afte

  • Navigation is path planning and positioning.

    GPS is the positioning.

    Directions is the path planning.

    Of the 2 cases mentioned in the article, they are path planning issues, the driver ignoring where's he is at and just following directions.

    The problem is not GPS, but the path software.

    Then again GPS in the EU better be using the EU system (Galileo) and not the US system--I'm sure there's an problem in that context since one case was in high lats (bad for GPS) or near the Russian/EU zone.

  • So a few people have died by GPS because they drove to the wrong place.

    What the moronic article fails to take into account is how many deaths have been prevented by GPS.

    How many deaths have been prevented because without the GPS they would have driven to the wrong place?
    How many deaths have been prevented because the driver was not distracted looking down a map instead of keeping the eyes on the road because they had turn by turn instructions?

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