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OTA Forum Moderator
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The news media is resurrecting similar stories of people becoming lost due to inappropriate GPS instructions in the wake of the sad events in Nevada involving the couple from B.C. who were apparently misled by their Magellan GPS into driving on treacherous roads (discussed here). One of the more notorious cases being recalled involved a person on foot being directed to walk along a highway and then being hit by a vehicle.

From our vantage points, many of us understandably want to shake some of those people and ask them what the heck they were thinking to trust such a device so blindly, while it is also hard not to feel sympathy for someone stuck in terrible weather conditions in a foreign place.

Is the media going in the right direction by publicizing such cases as proof that consumers put too much trust in GPS units? Is the GPS industry doing enough to educate their customers and to enhance their map data? Will we soon see a GPS advertising media blitz in reaction to the criticisms?
 

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I tend to think its buyer beware with GPS devices and maps, however, I think the industry should be doing everything to identify these types of roads to users.

In the old days, roadmaps used to identify the types of roads you would be travelling on. Roads like this where often referred to as "Seasonal Roads" or something similar.

I'm curious, do GPS devices do the same?

Ideally, they would and the default setting in the GPS device would be to avoid these roads when creating directions.
 

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People mis-read paper maps all the time. I guess we never hear about those cases in the news or else that detail is never highlighted. Being cautious and prepared is paramount when travelling off the main route for any circumstances.

The GPS most likely give them a false sense of security. Funny thing is I know many people who don't trust GPS even when in a familiar city.

I'm curious, do GPS devices do the same?
Yes they do. You can over ride the settings though. Also, the color of the lines change.

Based on what I have read (information is contradictory) this is the route I believe he took.
http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=d&sour...5,-115.785599&spn=0.43037,0.617294&z=11&via=1
 

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I've seen destinations in Google maps off by up to 100km. If the maps GPS companies supply are from the same source, I wouldn't trust them at all for Canada.
 

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Can you give an example, I have found Google Maps to be quite accurate.
 

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OTA Forum Moderator
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This isn't a response to Hugh's request. This is another case of what can go wrong and how the media has latched onto the GPS believability issue:
A 22-year-old medical student spent three days stranded in her car, after she was led down an impassable New Brunswick road by her GPS system. The ordeal began on Sunday, when Stephanie Parent was driving from Sherbrooke, Que., to Bathurst, N.B., for a month-long hospital internship.
She was almost there when the GPS she was using led her down a logging road. Low on gas, and stuck in thick snow, she spent the next 72 hours trying to figure out how to survive in frigid temperatures.
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20110303/lost-gps-nb-110303/
 

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She went down a logging road. <sigh>
 

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DSGAMBY, I tried that in Google Maps and that is not what you get

It reads "We could not calculate directions between Stanford, CA and Brinellvägen 38, 114 28 Stockholm, Sweden."

I'm Not saying mistakes aren't made but the reality is that people claim stuff like "my directions were 100km off" but 99% of the time its urban myth.

It seems you were fooled by a prankster.
 

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To answer the OP's question, the media is absolutely doing the right thing by broadcasting that GPS data is fallible and needs to be interpreted with common sense.

Just last weekend I was fishing just outside Algonguin park, and Google Maps showed "standard roads" going nearly all the way to the lake. (15km from Hwy 60)

In reality, these "standard roads" were former logging roads that are now barely wide enough for my ATV and were washed out in many places. I needed both my winch and chainsaw to get into where I was going.

GPS are great, but people should never, ever venture off the hardtop without proper emergency preparedness.
 

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My Garmin when going from Kanata to Orleans will have me get off at Metcalf and then get back onto the queensway!

Also re: google maps try directions from Ottawa to Tokiyo Zan, Japan It shows a similar map as above. Just did it now

53. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Entering Hawaii
69. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Entering Japan
 

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Those are ridiculous examples. Ones like 99 posted are relevant to the OP. But I have to ask. James did you disable avoidances?

I have been led down unpaved roads only when I disabled the avoidances.
 

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people claim stuff like "my directions were 100km off" but 99% of the time its urban myth.
I can assure you that it happens, though I don't recall the exact locations. The times I have seen it was with rural addresses in SWO. One time, the directions were off by several km. The other time, it wanted us to go 50km in the wrong direction. The first time, we asked directions at a local store and found the destination. Fortunately, we noticed the error the second time and obtained better directions.
 

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I suppose a lot of drivers simply plug in an address into their GPS and off they go without a care or thought. I'm naturally distrustful of technology, and I also like to plan things in advance as much as possible. So while I agree that GPS providers need to supply routes and instructions that are as accurate as possible, a little common sense goes a long way.
 

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I agree there are some limitations with GPS technology. But from my experience it is mainly user error. Maps cannot be 100% accurate and that is where common sense should prevail.

Rather than blame the GPS units the media reports should focus on how to validate your route or destination beforehand. The units can do this (show you a map of the entire route or the individual turns).

I would be curious to know what Magellan thinks of this matter. It would be possible to recreate a scenario to see if any other factors came into play. Like accident investigations or simulations do.

Edit: Tezster stole my thunder while I was distracted. :)
 

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Here are two examples where GPS can lead you awfully astray. The unit is set to avoid tolls. From Buffalo NY to Fort Erie Ontario, estimated time 10 hours(via Kingston). Actual time. 5 minutes.

Here's another. Set preferences to "most direct route". GPS takes you on unplowed, rural route roads, while a major 400 series highway is 1 km away.

The code writers for these GPS devices are very poor. Perhaps interns or summer students.
 

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I'm sure if the GPS was telling me to turn down a logging road in the middle of winter, the wife would be telling me otherwise.
 

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Good examples would be user error such as... On the TransCanada there are probably thousands of duplicate addresses. For example, there would be 1450 TCH in Sorrento area BC, Sicamous area BC, Revelstoke area BC, etc. etc. Even Elections Canada had someone from our area heading to vote 60km away due to that error. Someone(data entry) input 1450 or whatever TCH on the wrong area of the map/database.
A person would think the GPS was wrong and out by 50 or 100km but in reality they put in the wrong data or not detailed enough data(granular).
 
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