More Stories Of People Following GPS Blindly Into Dangerous Situations

from the on-top-of-a-mountain-and-at-the-bottom-of-a-lake dept

We've had tons of stories over the years of people blindly obeying their GPS devices way too far, leading to dangerous results... and yet it keeps on happening. Here are two more examples, with one leading to a car stuck atop a mountain, and the other at the bottom of a reservoir. The first, sent in by btr1701, involves a guy in Switzerland who followed his GPS up a mountain on a road so narrow that eventually his car got stuck and had to be helicoptered out (there are pictures at the link).

Then there's the guy over in Spain, who followed his GPS directions directly into a reservoir and drowned (the passenger in his car managed to escape and make it to shore, but the driver was apparently unable to swim). The report notes that the reservoir in question is Spain's largest and has been there since 1989, so it seems like any GPS mapping system should be aware of the change by now.

Either way, it still does make you wonder why people believe their GPS over their own lying eyes.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 1:56am

    these are of course the same people who would ignore signs and couldn't read maps in the non-gps era. But people love to jump onto the: "See, GPS is bad for you!" bandwagon.

     

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    IronM@sk, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 3:22am

    The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    Either way, it still does make you wonder why people believe their GPS over their own lying eyes.


    Because our eyes work so well in the dark and can see roads perfectly for miles ahead.

     

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    dave, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 3:29am

    To be fair to the deceased, it sounds like he was driving along an unlit road which was unfamiliar to him and it disappeared into a reservoir. The article is short on details, but from what it does say, it appears that this incident could have just as easily taken place if GPS weren't part of the story...

     

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    boondocker, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:11am

    It happens here all the time

    In 1937 the bridge across the river here washed away, now the road degrades from gravel to nil (with cliffs)-we've had many many people follow their GPS thinking they could cross the river. There is also a hairpin curve on a cliff near the old bridge that _cannot_ be navigated by any vehicle longer than about 30'... the 18 wheelers that have believed their GPS have gotten in real trouble with that. It's amusing, sort of. No one has been hurt yet.

    Though not related to GPS, the odd impaired driver has gone over the cliff on the hairpin, but it's a short fall and they seem unusually supple and are generally unhurt-I admit it suits me fine to have them off the road, and have to explain how they could miss the turn, tho some have just abandoned the vehicle and I have to get the cops to come and impound it.

     

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  5.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:52am

    Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    ...and what did people do before GPS when driving in the dark on unfamiliar roads? Drive slowly with headlights on full and watch out for hazards. You know, to best see unexpected hazards and give enough time to respond to them accordingly.

    Shame that people like you think that having a GPS is an excuse for not driving carefully.

     

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    abc gum, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:56am

    Re:

    "But people love to jump onto the: "See, GPS is bad for you!" bandwagon."

    Is that really the point here?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:58am

    Either way, it still does make you wonder why people believe their GPS over their own lying eyes.

    Because the slightest things upset them! A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheat. This sheer cliff may be nothing more than an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.

    Now if you'll excuse me, my GPS is telling me to turn left onto these train tracks.

     

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    abc gum, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:02am

    Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    "Because our eyes work so well in the dark and can see roads perfectly for miles ahead."

    Who drives up an off-road mountain trail in the dark - even if you had done it previously in good light conditions ....

     

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    Boost, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:05am

    Re: Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    Well said, PaulT.

     

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  10.  
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    abc gum, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:10am

    Depending upon GPS for the timely and accurate delivery of pizza within the city is quite different than negotiating rural roads and 4x4 trails you are unfamiliar with. It's best to be prepared, maybe even look at a map before venturing out.

     

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    Ryan Diederich, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:19am

    Despite Darkness

    Even though it was dark, even though it was an unfamiliar road, it never should have happened.

    Imagine driving fast enough that, even in the dark, when something comes into your field of vision you dont have enough time to stop. That is foolish.

    To quote the band Tool, "learn to swim"

     

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    Greg G, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    My thoughts exactly.

    I think IronM@sk has probably blindly followed his or her GPS into some sort of danger, but managed to escape, and now doesn't want to take responsibility for his or her own actions.

     

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    hmm, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    is there a way?

    We all need to donate $1 to the "buy the RIAA a GPS system" fund.......They can collect the system from the edge of the Grand Canyon. :)

    I'm now awaiting the day when the government decides all cliffs and lakes must have clearly marked warning signs...oh wait they already do!

     

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    AJB, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Happened to me...

    Driving down a dark road the GPS was trying to route me to the freeway... there was a barrier (one of those metal pole gates) across the road. Some quick braking kept me from hitting it, but it was a rude awakening for sure!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    Misconfigured GPS

    I doubt this accounts for the event in Spain, but my guess is the guy in Switzerland had his GPS configured for walking routes instead of driving. That happened to my father once while he was in Germany. He didn't get stuck, but he went driving down some footpaths before he figured it out.

     

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  16.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    I used to always make this dumb (really dumb) joke when I drove with GPS and would say that I could just watch the GPS display instead of looking out the front windshield. ... It looks like that's pretty much what the guys in these stories were doing.

     

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  17.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re:

    "Is that really the point here?"

    The point is two fold ... People are stupid, and evolution is still occuring.

     

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  18.  
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    It can't be helped, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:38am

    Its inevitable

    90% of the people in this worl are sheep plain and simple. This is the reason I am for natural selection. If you do something that could possibley kill you then you desearve to die. If you blindly follow instruction and think nothing bad will happen then you disearve what ever fate awaits you.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:48am

    These are the same people that stand at the top/bottom of escalators, in front of entrances/exits, in front of doors with big warning signs saying "stand clear, door opens outwards" and still don't comprehend what they're doing is obstructing everyone else.

    In short, they are stupid people.

     

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  20.  
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    Pixelation, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    If your GPS told you to drive off a bridge?...

    Sounds similar to a question I was asked as a child.

     

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  21.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:17am

    Darwin Awards

    Sounds like I was reading the Darwin Awards lol.

     

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  22.  
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    sehlat (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Obligatory Quotation

    "Think of it as evolution in action."

    -- Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
    "Oath of Fealty"

     

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  23.  
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    nasch (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re: Despite Darkness

    Quite right. Photos here:

    http://www.lacronicabadajoz.com/noticias/noticia.asp?pkid=57548

    That looks like a dirt road, which really shouldn't be taken at high speed unless you're very familiar with it. It seems like he would have been going pretty fast, or been pretty stupid, to drive so far into the lake as to have the car sink before he could stop.

     

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  24.  
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    YoMamma, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Stupid GPS

    I have a road right in front of my house that ends with a stop sign and sharp turn to the right... but the road straight through the stop sign was never finished. GPS says it's there.

    Amusing watching the flow of big rigs come down that road, in a crowed little townhome development with cars on the street.

    No way they can make the turn (although they try), so they are forced to back up for ~1/2 mile, avoiding everything and everyone only to have to pull forward 5 or 6 times to try again.

     

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  25.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Death of a Salesman.

    I tracked down the reference for the case in Spain, a story in a provincial Spanish newspaper (in Badojoz, the capital of Estremadura), and ran it through Google Translate, and looked at a map. Here's what it comes down to: Spain is like the American West. In areas of high, sparsely populated table-lands, with deep canyons, typically sheep-ranching country, they dam up the upper reaches of rivers, to make long, narrow lakes for irrigation and hydro-power. The lakes are wide enough and deep enough that it is economically impossible for farm-to-market roads to cross them by bridge. It is often fifty or a hundred miles between bridges, the same as in the Western United States, and you need to plan your route a long way back, with the aid of a big map.

    The accident victims were traveling salesmen, going from one hick town to another to avoid competing with big stores. I can see how they might have gotten into a situation where the only alternative was to turn around and drive back the way they had come for fifty miles. The way the roads are set up in places like that, they are designed to funnel traffic into comparatively big towns, which have decent stores, and where a traveling salesman cannot make a living. The people who designed the roads were of course primarily concerned with things like laying out workable routes for school buses, so that kids could attend high schools which would prepare them for university, that kind of thing. The result, in sparsely populated country, where hard choices have to be made, is a "star topology." Of course, if a town is big enough to support a decent high school, it can also support a discount store, and if a school bus can traverse a route, so can a mail van, carrying things ordered over the internet. The accident victims wound up in the reservoir because of the way the economy was set up to squeeze them. Call it "Death of a Salesman."

    Of course, local people tend to solve the transportation problem in that kind of situation by having a boat, and another car on the other side of the lake or river, but these were not local people.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re:

    no, but people love to trot that out often and i got preemptively annoyed.

     

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  27.  
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    Andrew (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    Google once sent us wandering around rural Iowa; we had asked for an address and it didn't know the number, so it just gave us the street, several disjointed miles away from our actual destination. Since then, I've always actually reviewed Google's paths before just printing out the directions. Anyone using a GPS should do the same. It's the original sanity check.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Death of a Salesman.

    Of course, local people tend to solve the transportation problem in that kind of situation by having a boat, and another car on the other side of the lake or river, but these were not local people.

    Sounds like a good place to set up a ferry business.

     

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  29.  
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    nasch (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Death of a Salesman.

    The accident victims wound up in the reservoir because of the way the economy was set up to squeeze them.

    No, they wound up in the reservoir because the guy drove his car into a lake.

     

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  30.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 3:51pm

    When People Are Following Orders, Their Brains Turn Off

    People can’t obey instructions and think for themselves at the same time.

     

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  31.  
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    RandomGuy (profile), Oct 9th, 2010 @ 1:57am

    Re:

    Who would use this as an example of GPS systems being bad for you?

    Surely the take home message here is 'stupidity is bad for you'. If you follow a little electronic device's direction into a reservoir/up a mountain/into a minefield (it'll happen sooner or later), then it's gotta be a case of PEBSWAS (Problem Exists Between Steering Wheel And Seat).

     

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  32.  
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    abc gum, Oct 9th, 2010 @ 8:02am

    Re: Its inevitable

    90% ? - Pessimism looks good on you.

    The rest of your comment is just plain stupid.

    Do you hide in the basement because going outside might cause harm? A traffic accident could take you out even if you have been very careful, better just stay in the house.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 3:58am

    My family's crazy gap year

    I always thought stories like this were exaggerated, but in the UK, on Channel 4, 'My Family's Crazy Gap Year' captured a couple who were in Namibia, with their 3 young kids in the car, driving down a dirt track in darkness at about 40mph, looking only at the GPS for directions. Of course there was a turn in the road that was not on the GPS, and they crashed. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. But it gets better, because in a follow-up interview the mom admits they did it a *second* time: "...we were in the middle of nowhere in Botswana and from the GPS we saw that we had to cross a river. However, we had just seen crocs and hippos in the nearby lakes and was disinclined to walk through the river to check it. What would you have done?! As we drove through the river, we had the fright of our lives when the river bed suddenly dropped and the water came up to the windscreen." Again, amazingly, nobody was hurt, but at what point do you learn?

     

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  34.  
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    Jay, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 9:25am

    Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    People have been driving cars for over a century without GPS. If it's to dark to see, don't drive, just because you have a computer telling you directions doesn't mean you can drive blind. and you don't need to see the road miles ahead, you need to see the road a few meters ahead to drive safely. you seem to be on the road to an accident with a shopping center.
    Good Luck.

     

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  35.  
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    Johnny, Jan 7th, 2012 @ 7:17pm

    Re: The Human Eye Is Perfect In Every Single Way

    I doubt you go from a freeway to a dirt road on your way to LA.

     

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