U-turn in Jackson.

Friday, May 5th, 2006

From Engadget comes word of two incidents in the last two weeks where British drivers have trusted their GPS driving instructions over their own eyes, and have attempted to pilot their vehicles across river bridges that exist in the database but not in real life. Doesn’t work well, as you might expect.

Sammy and I tend to leave the “Turn right in 200 yards!” instructions off on our GPS and use it in conjunction with our brains, eyes, and a well-thumbed Rand McNally Road Atlas…but one time driving a straight stretch of road east of Jackson, Michigan when we did have the turn-by-turn activated, we received insane instructions to make a U-turn mid-freeway…and, being stubborn and unwilling to turn south to go north, we did not comply.

On the other hand, driving in the UK is filled with those byzantine turn-south-to-go-north realities, so maybe your average UK driver is open to those computer commands. Me, I kind of prefer the approach of “here’s where you are with great precision on the planet earth…now you figure out what you want to do.”

The Engadget folks mention these incidents while reporting on the large (in this case, huge) new dash-mounted displays that seem destined to serve as yet another distraction layer for drivers who already have too much on their plate.