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Thursday, October 3, 2013

GPS vs. Reality: Believe Your Eyes

As reported by Consumer AffairsThere’s an old joke where a wife catches her husband in bed with another woman (or vice-versa) and the cheating spouse has the chutzpah to deny everything: “What? There’s nobody else in bed with me right now! You did not just see a naked stranger jump out from under the covers, throw on some clothes and run out of here. 

I've never cheated on you! Who’re you gonna believe — me, or your own lying eyes?”

But for the twenty-first century, maybe we should update that joke to apply to GPS systems: “When you look out your car window, you see a deserted beach next to a vast ocean. But I, your GPS, say it’s actually a well-traveled multi-lane highway. Who’re you gonna believe — me, or your own lying eyes?”
Unfortunately, too many drivers in such situations choose to believe the GPS. This happened most recently in Douglas County, Oregon, on Sept. 28, when the sheriff’s department got a call from an elderly couple whose RV got stuck in the mud on a deserted, unpaved logging road. Their GPS had suggested they leave the Interstate and take a shortcut through the wilderness.
Of course, elderly drivers aren’t the only ones prone to being fooled by their GPS systems. In 2011, a young woman in Washington State drove her SUV into a lake after she and her GPS mistook a boat launch for a road.  Other stories from that year include the man in New Jersey who blamed his GPS after he drove his car off the road and into a house, and the Pennsylvania woman who blamed hers for the head-on crash she caused while driving north in a southbound lane.
Indeed, bad-GPS-direction stories are becoming downright commonplace. Just last week, an Alaskan airport had to put up barricades after clueless iPhone users fooled by a flaw in Apple Maps data kept driving onto one of its runways.
Therefore, even though we are not psychic, we still feel pretty confident in predicting “Sometime in the next month, more ‘drivers get lost following bad GPS advice’ stories will appear in the news.” To make sure these headlines aren't about you, remember: if the road signs say one thing and the GPS says something else, ignore the GPS Navigation device and trust in the testimony of your own lying eyes.