Driving with a GPS

Just came across this story about a woman who is suing Google for giving her “bad directions” and directing her to walk out onto a highway.   Unsurprisingly, she was hit by a car and claims to be suffering “physical” and “mental” injuries – though I don’t know that she had much in the way of brains to injure in the first place!

It’s not the only GPS-related incident I’ve come across in the past – here are a couple about people who have nearly driven over cliffs, and another of a woman who literally drove off a bridge into a river.

Being a new driver myself, I can completely understand the reliance on GPS.  It is particularly invaluable in a city like Tokyo, with so many twisting roads and small streets.  However, I do agree with  the observation my parents made when they visited, that it would be better for me to learn the roads – that depending too much on the device doesn’t help me learn anything.  Yet, it’s hard.

The sheer convenience of being able to plug in a number or address and have a route laid out for you trumps having to open up a paper map and figure a) where you are in relation to your destination and b) what is the best way to get to where you want to be.  Again, this is especially true for me in Japan since I usually go driving way out of Tokyo, typically 150+ km outside of the city.

Nonetheless, I like to think that I do try to exercise a little common sense.  Yes, I do take wrong turns from time to time, but rather than follow the GPS recalculation (which tacks on another 5-10 km), I just look for a place to pull into and turn around.

My most recent goof was just this weekend on my way back into Tokyo from a day trip to Nikko with S and her sister (pictures and a post on that will  eventually be forthcoming).  Just before reaching a fork in the road, the GPS piped up and told me to “take a left”.  However, just as I was turning, S pointed out, “hey, the sign says Tokyo is on the right!”.  By then it was too late to change lanes, so I drove around until I was headed back to the fork again.  Once more the GPS prompted me to “take a left” but I just told it shut up and headed right, whereupon it then asked me to continue going straight ahead.  So much for GPS logic.

Even though the GPS goofed, there’s no way I’m blaming it for guiding me the wrong way, particularly when the road signs were so prominent.  I should have looked at the road signs more carefully.

So… chalk it up to a learning experience.  I’m sure I will still make more mistakes in the future, but I hope I never stop trying to use common sense.  As for that woman suing Google – I hope her case gets tossed out as soon as possible so that she stops wasting everyone’s time.

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