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Lack of driver attention contributes to some crashes as well

Maps and even printouts of Google Maps directions became obsolete when affordable global positioning systems (GPS) hit the market. But users in the state of Washington are now questioning these devices after being led off bridges and into unknown territories that are nowhere near their desired destinations.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, 623 collisions occurred within the state from 2006 to 2010 due to GPS units/computers. Two of these collisions were fatal. 

Washington has had many GPS-related issues in the recent past. For instance, three women from Mexico used a GPS system to navigate their way to an Embassy Suites in Bellevue's Eastgate area. They were in town for a Costco convention, and when driving back to the Embassy Suites in their Mercedes SUV around midnight, they turned onto Interstate 90 West instead of East, and made a turn off Bellevue Way Southeast. They were then led down the Sweyolocken boat ramp into Mercer Slough. The vehicle sank, but the passengers got away safely and slightly drenched. 

Another user led astray was Paul Unwin, an avid GPS user from Seattle. When traveling to a stargazing party in a desert outside Tucson, Arizona, the GPS led him 10 to 15 miles down a strange and rough road with cacti lying across the path. 

"I thought, 'Let's punch it into the GPS and it'll take us there,'" said Unwin. "It reminds me that you can't always trust what the GPS is telling you, and if you're unsure of the area, take a little extra bit of caution."

While a GPS system can be blamed for certain mishaps, there are other occasions where the driver is too busy looking at the system instead of paying attention to the road. For instance, a charter bus driver crashed into a bridge in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum while using a GPS in April 2008. The bus driver failed to see the flashing yellow lights and the signs indicating the low bridge down the road, and 20 students from the Garfield High School softball team were hospitalized. 

Carly Baltes of Garmin International further expressed driver responsibility, saying that GPS units cannot be blamed. She also pointed out that manuals tell drivers not to plug new coordinates in while driving, which could be a fatal distraction.

"GPS devices provide route suggestions," said Baltes. "They do not cause drivers to make driving decisions."

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By JakLee on 6/20/2011 12:46:16 PM , Rating: 2
"GPS devices provide route suggestions," said Baltes. "They do not cause drivers to make driving decisions."

"Turn left here" is a direction, not a suggestion. However, I do find it scarey that people are not confident enough in their own reality to realize you should not turn onto a river/slough in a car.....

RE: wow
By cjohnson2136 on 6/20/2011 12:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
Turn left here is a direction but it is a direction to a suggested destination.

RE: wow
By Solandri on 6/20/2011 2:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
Is there even a GPS which says "Turn left here"? All the ones I've used say things like, "In 500 feet, turn left onto Main Street" followed by "Turn left onto Main Street".

RE: wow
By jbartabas on 6/20/2011 1:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
"Turn left here" is a direction, not a suggestion.

It is intended as a direction, but your free will makes it possible (and healthy) for you to treat it as a "suggestion" ;)

RE: wow
By Ticholo on 6/20/2011 1:59:27 PM , Rating: 4

Or this is Skynet's limited capacity at present killing or injuring people a couple at a time. Baby steps instead of full on nuclear holocaust. And the genius part is you're all fooled while Skynet has time to grow!

RE: wow
By GammaLaser on 6/21/2011 12:24:15 AM , Rating: 3
Reminds me of that AllState GPS commercial..."Recalculating...TURN RIGHT NOW!!!" hehe.

RE: wow
By Arsynic on 6/20/2011 2:21:14 PM , Rating: 1
Unless you take orders from a fucking machine, it's a suggestion.

RE: wow
By foolsgambit11 on 6/21/2011 3:05:29 AM , Rating: 2
The imperative mood can be used for commands or suggestions. For instance, in the following dialog, the imperative is used for what is in reality a suggestion:

A: "I'm going to try out that new Indian restaurant."
B: "Don't go there; the food's awful."

Since social status has a lot to do with whether an imperative phrase is interpreted as a command or suggestion, I assume you place yourself below machines. I agree - I for one welcome our new computer overlords.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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