Friday, March 27, 2009

I Don't Need No Brain, I Got GPS

BMW Cliff H1
This is the BMW of a Mr. Robert Jones of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, UK. Mr. Jones, a deliveryman, depends on a GPS navigation system, (which the Brits call Sat-Nav), in his work. “I rely on my sat-nav,” Mr. Jones said. "I couldn't do without it for my job.”

Naturally, he had one in his BMW.

On 22 March 2009, Mr. Jones was trying to find his way around Todmorden, West Yorkshire, when his GPS told him, “turn here.” Mr. Jones complied, even though the road looked a bit narrow, run-down and—well, odd.

The “road” was, in fact, part of the Pennine Way—a footpath used only by serious hikers.

“It kept insisting the path was a road, even as it was getting narrower and steeper, so I just trusted it,” Mr.Jones said.

Heeding the instructions from his GPS with a positively religious fervor, Mr. Jones followed the narrow and twisting footpath higher and higher, finally arrived at the top of the steep hill and proceeded down the other side.

BMW Cliff 2 H1
His journey ended when the BMW crashed into a fortuitously-placed wire fence—at the brink of a 100-foot precipice—preventing Mr. Jones from plunging to an almost certain Darwin Award.

A recovery team using a four-wheel drive ATV took nine hours to haul the BMW away from the cliff edge.

“What a maroon,” Bugs Bunny might say—but let's be kind: Mr. Jones is far from being the only driver who—when switching on a GPS, switch off what few, functioning neurons many of them seem to possess.

In the UK alone, there have been more than 300,000 mishaps involving people paying more attention to their GPS than their common sense.

An ambulance crew transferring a patient from King George Hospital in Ilford, UK, to Mascalls Park Hospital near Brentwood—a 12 mile journey which should have taken about 30 minutes—were were sent on an eight-hour, 200 mile journey to the outskirts of Manchester by—you guessed it—a faulty GPS system, (the patient survived the journey, but I’m sure he really had to pee.)

A Queensland, Australia, truck driver, led astray by his GPS, drove onto a road totally unsuitable for heavy vehicles and crashed—narrowly avoiding an 260-foot drop.

Luckington Avon
Drivers following a GPS-recommended route through the village of Luckington, UK, have found themselves splashing into the River Avon—despite warning signs on both sides of the road and a large expanse of water straight ahead. Local villagers found themselves pulling an average of two cars a day out of the river.

Near the town of Glubczyce, Poland, a man following GPS directions drove his minivan straight into a lake. It seems he took a road closed a year before when the area was flooded to create a reservoir. "He ignored three road signs warning of a dead end,” a police spokesman said. “His GPS told him to drive straight ahead—and he did."

Back in the UK, GPS devices are directing vehicle traffic to a ferry crossing intended for foot-traffic only.

A GPS unit led a convoy of tourists astray in Utah, finally stranding them on the edge of a sheer cliff.

With little food or water, the group of 10 children and 16 adults from California used their GPS to plot a backcountry route from Bryce Canyon National Park to the Grand Canyon—but the device couldn't tell how rough the roads were. One vehicle got stuck in soft sand and two others ran low on fuel; the GPS then offered suggestions leading them onto the wrong dirt roads, which ended at a series of cliffs. The group—so lost it couldn't figure out how to backtrack their route—was finally rescued by Sheriff's officers.

Lemmings H1
In the same area, a merry band of GPS-equipped Belgian tourists ended up licking condensation off their minivan's windshield after being stranded on Four Mile Bench without water. Riders on all-terrain vehicles stumbled across the group.

One night in Bedford Hills, NY, a man—assiduously following the directions from his GPS—obediently drove onto the tracks of the Metro-North Railroad, where his vehicle became hopelessly stuck. Said driver and his passengers were able to abandon the car before a train crashed into it, causing a two-hour delay and eliciting howls of indignation from some 10,000 angry commuters.

One has to wonder about the conversation which took place in that car:

Tom: "I think we're lost."
Dick: "Can't be. I got GPS. Brand spankin' new."
Harry: "What's it say?"
Dick: "Says to turn right."
Tom: "What, here?"
Dick: "Yep. 'Immediate Right.' S'what it says."
Harry: "But those are railroad tracks."
Dick: "Can't be."
Tom: "Why not?"
Dick: "'Cause the GPS says turn right. Wouldn't say that for railroad tracks now, would it? Gotta be a road."
Harry: "Sure looks like railroad tracks."
Tom: "There are rails."
Dick: "It's dark. Mus' be lane stripes."
Harry: "Awfully narrow lane."
Tom: "And a big sign that says, 'Railroad Crossing.'"
Dick (turning right): "S'gotta mean up ahead. Here we go."
Tom: "OW! Awfully bumpy for a road!"
Harry: "OOF! What happened? Why aren't we moving?"
Dick: "Stuck. Mus' be a pothole. I'll back up."
Tom: "We're still not moving."
Dick (working the shift): "Can't seem to back her up."
Harry: "What's that?"
Tom: "What's what?"
Harry: "That light."
Dick: "Headlight, that's all."
Harry: "Only one?"
Dick: "Ain'cha never seen a car with only one light?"
Tom: “... it's... wiggling."
Dick: "Prolly working itself loose like the first one. Hope he makes it home okay."
Harry: "That's a TRAIN!"
Dick: "Can't be. GPS says we're onna road."
Dick: "Tell ya what. I'll humor you guys, but you're gonna feel real silly when that beat-up ol' car drives by."
(All three leave the vehicle.)
Dick: "OW!"
Harry: "What's wrong?"
Dick: "Aw, I tripped over the lane stripe. Say, what's that noise? Sounds like... a tornado."
(A train zooms by, smashing into the car and dragging it down the tracks.)
Dick: "NOOOO!!! My... my... new GPS was in that car!"

But wait. There’s more!

There are new GPS systems not intended for mere cars or hikers as you can see at this article: GPS walkers for the elderly.

I can see the headlines now:
Elderly Man Rescued From Ledge Of Chrysler Building
Queens Nursing Home Resident, Bound for Restroom, Located In Yonkers
Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

1 comment:

  1. OMG! Are people really that stupid?