Should You Follow Your GPS?

Using the GPS in a rental car

The Global Positioning System (GPS) has become an indispensable tool and incredibly useful in today’s world. By using the GPS, everyone finds it easier to travel with less stress avoiding getting lost while on the road. However, like all innovative tools, it can be harmful, too. VroomVroomVroom has put together a quick guide for using GPS navigation and how becoming too reliant on it can pose some risks.

What are the most important things to know when using a GPS?

  •  Use the GPS but only if needed. R​elying too much on your GPS can possibly ruin your navigational abilities. If you want to get around in the world, having a natural sense of direction is still essential as GPS devices can sometimes be unreliable and leave you feeling more helpless when you get lost thanks to a drained smartphone battery or a navigation app mishap because of a weak signal.​
  • Limit the use of GPS while driving: Try not to use your GPS if you can while driving and instead check all the directions before you embark on your journey. This way, you can retain the information easily and spend more time observing the landmarks around you.​

Why over reliance on your GPS can pose dangers?

From the story of three Japanese tourists who chose to follow the counter-intuitive direction of their GPS, and they ended up driving into the waters of Moreton Bay in Brisbane, Australia, to a story about a driver who failed to noticed a few “Road Closed” signs and ended up with his van in temporary flood-created lake after following GPS directions, there are a few other stories​ which will prove why avoiding relying blindly on GPS is strongly encouraged.​

A New Jersey driver caused a four car pile-up after he followed his GPS and made an illegal left turn while the warning signs stated: Don’t make a left turn.

Another case of a GPS system that didn’t quite live up to its standards​ featured the story of three Mexican women who drove ​straight into a swamp ​after they followed directions from their GPS unit. Based on the incident report, the three women were safe and rescued, but the vehicle was completely under water.

The  moral of the story: if you miss a turn or get lost while driving in an unfamiliar place, you have two choices. Stay calm and figure it out carefully, or try not to rely on your GPS too much and instead, use your common sense. GPS and other navigational apps can be very useful, but blindly following its directions may sometimes lead to danger.

Using a map and reading warning signs, in combination with the use of GPS, is what we always encourage. You may still listen to the GPS voice that offers turn-by-turn directions, but make sure to pay attention to traffic lights and warning signs to avoid road accidents. ​

Which is better: Dedicated GPS device or smartphone GPS?

If you are a frequent traveller, you may already know that all major suppliers in the car rental industry have GPS navigation systems to hire, even smart phones have built in maps that can direct you to your destination. If this is the case, you may be wondering whether if it still makes sense to add a GPS as an extra when you can just use your smartphone.

We listed down a few good reasons on why renting a GPS is still a better option.

  • Data: ​If you are planning on doing some long distance driving, renting a GPS unit is a good option than using your mobile data plan, to avoid expensive overage charges.
  • Battery: In terms of battery power, a rental GPS unit can last longer especially on long trips than relying on your phone, which may not  even last halfway through the day​. Additionally, GPS navigation is more suited in time of emergency.
  • Service: Without cellular service, you cannot expect to receive a full turn-by-turn directions on your smartphone, while a rental GPS unit can still work in locations when there is no cellphone coverage.

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