Death by GPS

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Death by GPS refers to the death of people attributable, in part, to following GPS directions or GPS maps.[1][2][3] Death by GPS has been noted in several deaths in Death Valley, California;[4][5] a lost hiker at Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California;[6] and incidents in Washington State, Australia, England, Italy and Brazil.

Causes[edit]

There are multiple reasons why people following GPS directions have become lost, been injured, or have died. The reasons listed below may also include the lack of a working communications systems to call for help. Consequently, drivers or hikers have ventured off the road or into remote, impassable, or dangerous areas; driven until their vehicles were out of fuel, mired, or disabled; succumbed to hazardous climate or weather conditions; or gotten lost.[1][2][3][4][5][7]

  • Uncritical acceptance of turn-by-turn commands; paying more attention to the navigation system than what was in front of them, such as road signs and signals, barriers, and terrain[2][3]
  • Unfamiliarity with or unawareness of hazardous conditions not noted by GPS (e.g., the local climate or weather conditions, construction, or closed, impassable, or dangerous roads)
  • Unfamiliarity with the area
  • Lack of a current, accurate written map or written directions to use in concert with or in lieu of those provided by GPS
  • Outdated or incorrect GPS maps
  • The GPS directions may reflect the shortest distance between locations, regardless of whether or not the route is navigable

Allen Lin, in research published in 2017, provided a systematic analysis of the key themes in these incidents and the roles that navigation technologies played in them.[7]

Proposed solutions[edit]

Matthew McKenzie offers some precautions against death by GPS: "Use GPS and other mobile devices the way they should be used: as simple conveniences. Carry a real map, understand the local climate, and don't hesitate to turn around and go back the way you came if your directions don't 'feel' right."[1] The National Park Service has posted the following message on the Directions & Transportation page of the official Death Valley Park website:[8]

Using GPS Navigation

GPS Navigation to sites to remote locations like Death Valley are notoriously unreliable. Numerous travelers have been directed to the wrong location or even dead-end or closed roads. Travelers should always carry up-to-date road maps to check the accuracy of GPS directions. DO NOT DEPEND ONLY ON YOUR VEHICLE GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c McKenzie, Matthew. "'Death by GPS' a Growing Problem for Careless Drivers". AllBusiness.com. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Milner, Greg (3 May 2016). "Death by GPS: Why do we follow digital maps into dodgy places?". Ars Technica. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Milner, Greg (3 May 2016). Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds (First, hardcover ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0393089127.
  4. ^ a b "Experts Warn of 'Death by GPS' as More People Visit Remote Wildernesses". Fox News. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b Knudson, Tom (30 January 2011). "'Death by GPS' in desert". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  6. ^ "'Death by GPS' in California desert". mcclatchydc. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  7. ^ a b "Understanding " Death by GPS " : A Systematic Analysis of Catastrophic Incidents Associated with Personal Navigation Technologies". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  8. ^ "Death Valley National Park, CA, NV: Plan Your Visit: Directions & Transportation". National Park Service. Retrieved 21 January 2018.