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GPS Woes

  1. Jan 2, 2010 #1
    Actually, it's not GPS itself which is at fault, but the software or those who use them.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100102/ap_on_hi_te/us_stranded_motorists" [Broken]blindly followed their GPS on a shortcut through mountain ranges in the winter and became stuck in the snow.

    I find that easy to believe, at least about the GPS part, as I occasionally see GPS instructions that do not jibe with the reality of the roads.

    One item I found poorly written in the article:

    "Law enforcement officials and travel experts have a variety of recommendations for people who use GPS in the winter or in strange territory:

    "Use an old-fashioned paper map as a backup. Pack a survival kit for the winter. Configure your GPS for "highways only," or a similar setting, so that you don't get directed to byways in the winter. Top off your gasoline tank, and charge your cell phone batteries before going into remote areas. Pay attention to the weather." (bold mine)​

    If you're going into remote areas during the winter, take chains! 4WD helps a lot, at least for motive power (no difference in braking).

    Most recently, while travelling home to Colorado Springs from Denver Airport (DEN), I had selected my GPS to use toll roads (normally I avoid toll roads). It still took me the old route, to I-225, instead of via the I-470 toll road. I think it's slightly shorter, but traffic can back up for miles.

    Fortunately, traffic was light, so I saved some bucks!

    How many of you have had similar incidents with GPS? Not necessary getting stuck in the snow requiring a search party, but just being given bad info?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2010 #2


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    They are only as good as the map data.
    Frequently the map data is bad, it includes rods that were planned but never built, roads that were abandoned or removed (especially logging roads) - but so do paper maps

    There are usually silly season stories in the UK of some truck driver from somewhere in Europe that has got a 40ton truck jammed in a farm gate because the GPS chose a horse path across a field as a short cut.
  4. Jan 2, 2010 #3
    On my Tom-Tom GPS, when you review the route, you can tell it to use or avoid certain roads. Also for any long drive, I'll check it on my computer before I leave the house. That way I can check out what the road looks like before I leave the house, so I'm not likely to wander down some cow path. I did have a problem one time, because a road was closed for construction.

    Being able to check the Streetview of my destination is also handy, but I find that Mapquest is more up to date. The birds eye view on Bing is also nice. There are also some useful features in Google Earth. It is a great time to be a cartophiliac.
  5. Jan 6, 2010 #4
    Most GPS devices can be set to stay on highways, main roads, etc. It's best if you cross-reference if you're not going to a popular destination or if you're going off on side roads. My grandparents were testing their GPS and when they were back in their, small, home town it led them on a random path to a dead end where they were supposed to take a turn on a magical intersection. The part of town they were in hasn't seen construction since before the public release of GPS tech so someone got creative with that map lol.
  6. Jan 16, 2010 #5


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    My car's GPS has shown me a few interesting short cuts but, it has also led me on some odd drives as well. It has a feature to set the relative speed for different types of roads but, I haven't experimented with that very much. Maybe if I set freeway speeds around 100 MPH, it will stop trying to send me through small towns on a 500 mile drive.
  7. Jan 16, 2010 #6


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    Whenever I go back home from northern part of Warsaw, my Nuvi tells me to drive through a street that in reality is a gravel road changed by heavy trucks into mud pool (52°19'30.86"N 21° 5'1.13"E - Leon Berenson Street). It was never much better, but every plan I have shows it as a street, so it is hard to blame GPS. As mgb_phys wrote - every GPS is only as good as a map it uses.

    Problem with Garmin devices (and I am using two, so I can already generalize) is that they use different settings and different algorithm to find a route then the MapSource program on PC does. In effect even checking the route before doesn't work. MapSource is distributed with Garmin GPSs, so one could expect it to be compatible - but it is only compatible in terms of data formats.
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