Sometimes the GPS is Wrong

Yesterday, I made the leisurely drive from Sydney to Melbourne in the Prius and as per usual I used the GPS just so I could keep an eye on my arrival time as well as the traffic conditions once I got back into the metropolitan areas. However, as much as every GPS attempts to be as accurate as possible they will inevitably fall behind with map data and points of interest and will require updating.

A good example of out of date information are the final two bypasses on the NSW leg of the Hume Highway that have been recently completed. The GPS in the Prius has absolutely no record of it and, for a few minutes each time, it looks like I am just tearing through the bush, farmland and parks on my merry way to Melbourne. This in itself may not be such a big deal (particularly as I ended up back on the Hume Highway on the map on the other side of the bypass) but we have heard of instances where people have become lost by putting blind faith in the GPS.

I remember an instance when I used WhereIs maps a while back (maybe ten years ago) in order to find a computer store. However, despite faithfully following 80% of the turn-by-turn directions I found myself unable to find the next road. I drove around for thirty minutes before giving up (and silly me had left my Melways at home).

Ultimately, it is a good idea to get a “second opinion” on how to get somewhere. Typically, I use Google Maps to conduct that verification activity so I can understand where the destination resides in relation to other places I know. I also use the street view function to suss out the parking situation (i.e. free or paid parking and time limits). At least if I do this verification task I can work out if my GPS might be leading me astray (even if it is trying to lead me around significant traffic congestion or road closures).

While GPS and traffic adaptation technology are very handy I still think it is hard to beat good old local knowledge of roads but put them all together and you could be a very smart driver indeed.

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