Saying Bad GPS Directions = 'Killing Children' Seems A Bit Extreme

from the don't-you-think? dept

Everyone knows that GPS devices have varying degrees of quality when it comes to providing routing directions. Generally speaking, none are great, especially when it comes to local roads. Some are better than others, but it generally depends on the location. Still, it seems a bit extreme to dub GPS devices with poor navigation skills as “child killers.” However, that appears to be what some researchers have done in a report on GPS driving systems as tested in the Netherlands. Apparently, most of the navigation systems don’t recognize that certain residential areas are really designed for local access only, rather than having cars travel through them. So they send people through those roads, where pedestrians have the right of way. From that, the researchers take the leap (and it’s a big one) to calling them “kid killers.” It’s one way to get attention for your research, but not exactly the best way to get yourself taken seriously.

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Comments on “Saying Bad GPS Directions = 'Killing Children' Seems A Bit Extreme”

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Iron Chef says:

I will find you...

So if we teach kids to follow GPS directions, I think we’re doing a disservice to everyone, because driving a car should be based around the fundamentals of actually driving a car, and not blindly following the directions spilled out by a tool.

A GPS is a Tool, not an end all solution. If you treat it as an end-all solution, hate to say it, but your being a bad parent. Teach your kiddos to DRIVE and use common sense. Once they have suceeded at that, then, (and only then), introduce technology as a helper.

This is the only way it will work. If you put the cart before the horse, you’ll surely ruin it for all of us, and Ol Iron Chef will hunt you down and provide testamony against you kid. I guarantee you that.

Paul` says:

Re: I will find you...

GPS direction services aren’t intended to replace any fundamentals of driving a car, they’re just interactive maps with speakers. I can’t see how it takes anything out of or replaces any skill needed for driving which seems to be what you are saying.

Obviously you need to know how to drive a car before you can take directions on driving it.

Gabrieltane says:

Re: Re: I will find you...

Missing the point here…

The ridiculous leap being made by this report is that these drivers who have been routed through these local-traffic-only areas are going to be completely unfamiliar with the area and therefore run over the kids that live there. And it’s going to be the GPS devices’ fault that they were there in the first place.

It has nothing to do with the training of young drivers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I will find you...

car gps’s that give directions were inteded to give people the ability to quicklly plot a route to get you to your destination without looking at a map and the fewest wrong turns which mine does sucessfully.

someone who uses a gps without learning how to find their way without one will not know how to use a map, know the names of roads, and get lost easily which allready i had problems with anyway.

now maybe someone who watches the gps instead of looking at the road could be a child killer same could be said for someone who looks at a map while driving or fiddles with finding the right cd to listen to. my gps tells me what i need to do so i dont have to look at it.

Merijn Vogel says:

Here in the Netherlands the road structure is far different than the one in the US. Our sidewalks are not as high, sometimes level with the street. The streets here mentioned are narrow. One little town had to ban large vehicles from their roads to ‘hint’ truckdrivers that they had to avoid it. Many large trucks became stuck in the narrow roads.

In general, the maps in the Netherlands for GPS are very good; however, sometimes the *directions* are not, and yet followed blindly, despite the extremely good roadsign-directions.

Increasing (heavy truck) traffic in small towns where people not generally expect them is a serious issue and really increases the danger for accidents.

Add to that equation that cycling is not ‘common’ but ‘ubiquitous’, (there are more bicycles than people here) and serious accidents are bound to increase and happen.

ace rimmer says:

Re: Re:

I am a proffessional driver in Canada… and have drove large trucks all over the US and Canada for about 18 years … never owned a GPS System… have had to drive a large vehicle into places that are very difficult to manuver… without incident… and im sorry to say i feel i must take issue with that statement… Studies in Canada have show that most accidents in this country are caused by smaller vehicles (mostly rushing to pass the slower moving vehicle…) cause more than 90% of the accidents involving larger vehicles… I dont know about the training the drivers in your country recieve, but here the majority know what they are doing and are capable in their work… Most drivers in cars drive about 20,000 km per year… I myself have drove more than 250,000 km per year… through roads that i really didnt want to go down… but had to… People may be intimidated by the size of the truck… But generally the person behind the wheel knows the vehicle and has a better understanding of it then the guy in his car behind him annoyed because the truck is forcing him to do the speed limit… Im not trying to say we are gods on the roads… I have seen some bad drivers in trucks… but not nearly as may as i have in cars…

Think about it my friend… If you got it… It was most likely in the back of a truck at some point

Enrico Suarve says:

Perhaps they came on a bit strong...

with the phrase “child killers”

But it does highlight an important point which is that GPS systems do have the potential to direct more traffic – in some cases MUCH more traffic via residential areas

No the GPS is not going to run over a kid, but rerouting potentially large amounts of traffic through small residential streets is bound to lead to more accidents

Surely peoiple can grasp that? Or does everyone here let their kids play on the freeway?

Personally I think it highlights that the manufacturers need to be a bit more responsible and come up with some method which takes into account whether a street is residential or not and possibly other factors

A lot of the time using these streets is no faster anyway due to their size and speed limits. Some of the younger taxi drivers near my house use them and the ‘quick route’ to the airport usually isn’t in my experience

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

Re: Perhaps they came on a bit strong...

They run into the problem of not having different definitions for the type of road you are traveling on. They need to include things like speed limits and road size into the calculations of routes.

This is the next generation of data. Perhaps the google picture car will pick up on this when it drives through the neighborhood.

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Re: Perhaps they came on a bit strong...

True – I didn’t say it would be easy but they could still come up with a way of doing it – I can think of a few off the top of my head which would be good starting points (probably need a lot of work ironing out the obvious bits I’ve missed but ain’t that always the way)

I would guess that mapping roads in a GPS is not easy either but they did that so applying the same problem solving abilities to a problem they are creating would seem to be a good idea (I’m surpirsed that they didn’t see thisone coming from a long way off)

I would suggest they start if they haven’t already, as I can see this being the type of thing that governments will start cracking down on if not. The obvious implication being that you will have some government office in a given country saying “you must do it this way, using this half assed system” or “you must live up to these requirements”

If the mapping companies were to do it and achieve a decent provable success rate they would probably be in a good position and likely be able to at least help consult on the rules

Paul` says:


They are useful but common sense needs to apply. On a trip into the country with my family our GPS lead us on a giant loop by making us go left then straight for 5 minutes, right the straight for another 5, then right again untill we hit the road we were on previously then go back onto it. Totally pointless excursion but still, at least we didn’t follow it off a cliff

Lohocla says:

Kinda makes sense

Considering that there are many instances of drivers being turned into simpletons by their GPS’s, it’s not too much of a leap to assume the worst if they get led into a residential area. Someone in my area last year drove his car into someones living room because his GPS told him to turn left and he did. Blamed the GPS too which is sad.

It’s scary how the “information age” is destroying the concept of common sense and personal responsibility.



Just Me says:


I don’t think it’s so much a case of a device (any device) turning people into simpletons as it is a case of people being more than willing to let something else do the thinking for them.
We see this all the time in politics, religion and even workplaces – get something/someone thinking for people and they’ll follow it like the good little sheep that they are.

The only reason this is any different is because the effect is a lot more apparent and the blame shifting is becoming rather ridiculous.

A GPS device will only make a simpleton of a person who allows it to.
People need to start accepting responsibility for their own actions; GPS told you to drive into a house – still your fault, got drunk and ran someone down driving home – still your fault, broke and hungry so you decide to knock off a liquor store and end up shooting the clerk – still your fault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does anybody plan a trip to an unfamiliar area without looking at a map first?

I drove out to Colorado following a classmate one time. To get to our destination he wanted to take a road over the mountains that didn’t even show up on the map I had. When I hesitated he got pissy and said ‘fine’ and headed off on his own.

When he turned up a full day late it turned out that the ‘road’ he took was an unimproved gravel road that was intended for four-wheel-drive vehicles, not a Buick Regal, and after taking nearly six hours to go about ten miles he found out the road was impassible at the summit for his car and he ended up backtracking to where we parted ways earlier in the day. Coming back down in the dark he got stuck and had to wait until morning to find somebody to pull his car out of the mud.

GPS is a tool. Just like a map. It was never intended as a replacement for common sense.

Anonymous Coward says:


Wow! Everyone just wants to blame electronics for everything that happens while idoits are driving… First it was Stereos, then Cell Phones, now GPS devices… IF YOU CAN’T DRIVE and talk DON’T, if you can’t drive and adjust the Volume don’t, and if you can’t listen to a voice sanying TURN RIGHT in 500 feet OMG how did you pass your drivers test???? Really why can’t we just say yes that stupid driver coudn’t figure out how to drive down the road and wrecked… instead of saying due to a cell phone this “perfect person” wrecked.

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