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.

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Comments on “More Stories Of People Following GPS Blindly Into Dangerous Situations”

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RandomGuy (profile) says:

Re: 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).

PaulT (profile) says:

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.

boondocker says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Despite Darkness

Quite right. Photos here:

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.

It can't be helped says:

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.

YoMamma says:

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.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

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.

Andrew (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Jay says:

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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