Death by GPS: Why GPS is Not a Common Sense Substitute

January 24th, 2017 by Jennifer Lough

There are few who would advocate driving into Death Valley on a tank of gas and directional intuition. Yet, people drive  into Death Valley on a tank of gas and the directions of a machine notorious for recalculating. We walk into signs and cars and fellow pedestrians because we’re texting and it’s killing us. Literally. So, you ask, how do we combine convenience and common sense without meeting a nasty end? An excellent question.

Studies indicate that GPS reliance actually changes the brain and hurts your ability to navigate. The recommended solution, as you might guess, is to use the GPS less and a map more if you like your spatial reasoning. Alternately, it helps to pay attention while driving so you don’t end up 900 miles from the destination.  Although I have no study to back me up here, I hypothesize that you can save your navigation ability by actively working with the GPS rather than passively allowing it to direct you. If the GPS says to turn right in 800 feet, note your surroundings, the street name, miles from the last turn, etc. Take control of your car, man.

Bottom line: be lazy at your own risk. Convenience is all well and good, but many a driver has been led astray, including the students who drove their car into the ocean and that guy who caused a crash by making an illegal U-turn. Besides, now there’s automation complacency and boreout to prevent. Tread cautiously in all convenience endeavors because machines don’t have minds yet, and I assume we’d all like to keep ours.

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