The increasing affordability and availability of GPS-enabled devices has helped countless travelers reach their destinations in recent years. But the story of a Canadian couple who went missing in Nevada for 48 days has shown that GPS has its limits and can even put you in harm’s way. The couple had plotted their course on a handheld GPS unit that had directed them into the unforgiving and expansive wilderness of the American West.
Although this story has grabbed headlines, overreliance on computerized navigation systems can cause a number of less-publicized problems. Almost everyone who has used GPS while driving has been confronted with a glitch here or there – usually just an annoying inaccuracy or seemingly unnecessarily complicated directions. Occasionally, however, GPS navigation systems have been known to direct users the wrong way down one-way streets or into areas that have been recently reworked. In the winter, many drivers follow their GPS directions down unplowed side streets when a safer, plowed road is available. In these circumstances, motorists who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings can put themselves or others at risk.
Don’t place all of your faith on a GPS navigation device. Use common sense and check your route with maps from multiple sources. Follow road signs and major roads to common destinations such as parks and stadiums. If you’re not paying attention, your GPS is going to help you find trouble.