Wednesday, 25 April 2012


My previous post showed that Google Earth and Google Maps have many uses that have made positive impacts on the world. But not all are rosy, however, as the following article illustrates.

9 Car Accidents Caused by Google Maps & GPS
By Robert Wabash,
Ranker, 17 April 2012.

Car accidents caused by GPS and Google Maps, unfortunately, aren't all that unusual. The results of people blindly following electronic directions into large bodies of water, busy roads (going the wrong way), and yes, even trees, clearly show that perhaps we've all become just a tad too reliant on those "helpful" voices and maps that guide us along our way. It's important to remember that, yes, maps and sat navigation devices are really great, but they're also potentially dangerous. This list includes some of the most dramatic examples of what can happen when people put a bit too much trust in their GPS devices and Google Maps.

GPS and Google Maps are very useful, but one thing becomes quite clear when looking over this list: Blindly following online navigation devices can easily result in disaster. Drivers often pay much more attention to the GPS voice that gives them turn-by-turn directions than they do to large signs that say things like "No Entry," "Wrong Way," "Closed for Construction," and "Turn Around, Stupid!"

OK, that last one was a stretch - but not really. In parts of England, the problem's gotten so bad that signs are now posted telling people to turn OFF their "sat nav" systems entirely, and to rely on (gasp!) their actual eyes instead.

Behold, this list of the (many) accidents caused by drivers and pedestrians choosing GPS and Google Maps over common sense.

1. Japanese Tourists Follow GPS Directions, Wind Up in Bay

It can be nerve-racking to drive a car in unfamiliar territory, but in March of 2012, a group of Tokyo students in Australia deserved every bit of that traditional tourist anxiety and embarrassment - and then some. When they ignored common sense to follow the counter-intuitive instructions on their GPS, they wound up smack in the middle of Moreton Bay. The tourists were trying to navigate between two islands along a channel route when they got stuck in the water. Fortunately, it was low tide.

What happened? Student Yuzu Noda said the GPS "...told us we could drive down there. It kept saying it would navigate us to a road. We got stuck... There's lots of mud."

Blasted machines, always making innocent geniuses do things they don't want to do! Taking this shortcut is definitely a costly mistake: The tourists wound up forking over about $1,500 in extra charges to the car rental company, as outlined in their contract as part of an Idiot Tax.

2. Woman Follows GPS, Drives Straight Into Swamp

Source: YouTube

We all know that moment of panic that comes when we miss a turn in a place we don't know too well. In those instances, you only have two options: Figure it out yourself, or rely on the GPS.

In June 2011, three women driving a rented Mercedes SUV near Seattle made the absolute wrong decision. When their trusty little robot rerouted them down a large boat launch, these Mensa candidates simply shrugged and hit the gas. They cruised all the way into the Mercer Slough, where the car became submerged in murky water.

The women were okay - they all managed to get out - and Mercer Island divers were called in to recover the Mercedes. Quote one of the rescuers on scene: "I don't know why they wouldn't question driving into a puddle that doesn't seem to end..."

That makes two of us.

3. Woman Sues Google Maps After Getting Hit By a Car

Source: YouTube

What do you remember from Kindergarten, other than the delicious salty-sweet flavour of paste? Here's one lesson that's stuck with me: Look both ways before you cross the street.

Unfortunately, Lauren Rosenberg must have missed class that day. In January of 2009, the California resident consulted Google Maps to find the best walking route to her destination in Park City, UT. When it directed her onto a busy four-lane highway, she confidently strode off the curb and straight into oncoming traffic. D'oh!

Not surprisingly, Rosenberg suffered injuries and was hospitalized. More than a year later, she filed a more than $100,000 lawsuit against Google Maps (and the driver who hit her), claiming Google's "reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions" caused her to suffer "severe permanent physical, emotional, and mental injuries." Come again? She tried to blame a computer for her mental disorder, implying that without it, she would have been too smart to wander onto a busy highway.

For Your Information: A court ultimately ruled against Rosenberg, ruling that the disclaimer/warning was clear enough.


A judge added, "Durr."

4. New Jersey Driver Follows GPS, Causes Four-Car Pileup

Ever driven in the state of New Jersey [USA]? If so, you're probably familiar with this rule: Don't make a left turn. Just do not do it. For some reason, New Jersey has a lot of "jughandles" - ramps that force drivers to first turn right before, ultimately, turning left. Consider yourself warned.

Unfortunately, a 17-year-old Marlboro Township driver screwed up big time in May of 2010, when, while following his GPS, he made an illegal left turn on Route 33. That decision led to a four-car pileup (and several tickets for the teen driver, who had a provisional license). The driver's excuse? His GPS "told him to turn left." When asked what he would do if his GPS told him to jump off a bridge, the teen asked, "How high?"

5. UK Woman Follows GPS, Drives Mercedes Into River

UK Woman Follows GPS, Drives Mercedes Into River 9 Car Accidents Caused by Google Maps & GPS Anything picture

What's the deal with people driving expensive cars into enormous bodies of water? This is why we can't have nice things.

In March 2007, a 28-year-old woman following her in-car satellite navigation system ignored a number of warning signs telling her not to drive down a certain road toward a rain-swollen river, drove directly toward said rain-swollen river anyway, and drove her Mercedes SL500 right in to that rain-swollen river. Swollen with heavy rain, the raging River Sence in Leicestershire, United Kingdom (UK), carried her car several hundred feet downstream.

Luckily, the driver was rescued by someone who witnessed the accident - but it took crews a week to get the submerged Mercedes (estimated at £96k) out of the water.

6. Bus Driver Follows GPS, Gets Wedged Under Bridge

This one is kind of scary. Did you ever see/read The Sweet Hereafter? If not, and you have kids who take the bus, or if you regularly take the bus yourself, or if you live somewhere where the roads are slick and snowy, maybe skip it (and be careful, for chrissake). Otherwise, check it out when you are in the mood for a major bummer.

In April of 2008, a bus driver responsible for a high school girls softball team ignored the basic laws of math, his bus driver training, and all common sense when he ploughed the bus into - and under - a bridge in the Washington Park Arboretum.

The bust was 12 feet high. The very old pedestrian foot bridge was 9 feet high, and flashing lights and yellow signs posted on its path said as much. But the GPS on the bus said go! go this way; it's safe; ignore that little demon on your shoulder; I would never steer you wrong; everything will be fine, just fine. So the driver went.

The roof of the bus was sheared off, and several students were treated for minor injuries. In a statement, the president of the charter bus defended the driver and blamed the GPS: "We just thought it would be a safe route, because why else would they have a selection for a bus?"

7. Trucker Follows GPS Directions, Winds Up in Tree

It can be hard to multitask. Usually, when you're listening to the voice on your GPS, you're also driving a motor vehicle. And what, you're expected to read signs, too? Nice try, words. You'd have to wake up pretty early in the morning to fool me.

In July of 2007, a German driver listened to his GPS and drove a cargo truck at the same time, but he drew the line on responsibility right there. While barrelling through the Lucerne area of Switzerland, the driver daydreamed right past several "No Entry" signs. In broad daylight, he drove down a busy pedestrian walkway and ploughed straight into a cherry tree.

Source: YouTube

The truck, naturally, was wedged into the tree. When the truck driver tried to back out, he wound up taking out several lamp posts and causing even more tree destruction.

Swiss workers had to use chainsaws on the tree, and the truck driver was fined about $540.

8. UK Motorists Follow GPS, Get Stuck on Narrow Roads

In the tiny villages and towns around Winchester, UK, motorists have long had problems with GPS navigation. They follow the route their devices suggest and repeatedly wind up stuck - the roads are simply too narrow for some wider vehicles.

The problem got so bad in the town of Exton that a bright yellow sign was erected to warn drivers NOT to follow their GPS and to, instead, rely on common sense. These are the times we live in, folks.

9. German Driver Obeys GPS, Drives Into Sand Pile

In October of 2006, an elderly German driver somehow made a conscious decision to ignore a "closed for construction" sign on a busy roadway near Hamburg. Why? Why on earth? The 80-year-old motorist opted, instead, to follow his GPS directions to the letter.

The man and his wife were lucky to escape injury (and worse) when he shot past an enormous warning sign and drove headfirst into a massive sand pile.

And before you ask: yes, he was also driving a Mercedes.

[Source: Ranker. Edited.]


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