|My Sat Nav's Trying to Kill Me!|
Unless I'm hopelessly lost, I try not to use my Sat Nav. Not because I find the voice irritating, not because it's a distraction; I'm just convinced that it's trying to do me in.
In the last year, it's tried to send me over a roundabout it 'forgot' to mention, it's attempted to steer me into numerous hedges and walls, down alleyways barely wide enough for a person on foot, and most recently, tried to convince me that driving off a bypass flyover onto the road below was the fastest route to my destination. And it would have been, if my destination had been the nearest morgue.
If you've ever used a supermarket home delivery service, just hope that a) you don't live down a narrow lane and b) the driver doesn't rely on Sat Nav. A delivery driver for Asda in Bury followed his GPS instructions a little too faithfully and ended up turning down a footpath which was barely three feet wide and surrounded by thick foliage. Needless to say he got stuck, and was there for over an hour as the RAC struggled to free the van.
He needn't feel too silly though; apparently the footpath in question is a favourite for Sat Nav maps, as other vehicles have been sent down it too. Local residents have dubbed it "the unluckiest" in the area. Lancashire Council is considering placing signs and bollards at each end to prevent any more hapless drivers from getting stuck there.
Slightly more perilous than a footpath in Bury is the more recent case of the white van man left stranded on the side of a Swiss mountain after his Sat Nav mistook a goat trail for a main road. To add insult to injury, the device gave up as the driver realised he was stuck, and told him to 'turn around'…
If nothing else, it should be a lesson to use common sense rather than blindly following an electronic device. But even that won't always stop you from coming a cropper, as a Swedish couple on a trip to Italy found out. Inputting 'Capri', the couple happily set off, looking forward to relaxing on the golden beaches. Upon arriving in 'Capri', they asked directions to the Blue Grotto, one of the southern island's famous landmarks…only to be told their GPS had actually brought them to 'Carpi' - an industrial town in the north of Italy.
And a car showroom in Gibraltar, off the coast of Spain, was left waiting for their latest shipment when the driver of the Turkish transporter carrying them was mistakenly directed to Gibraltar Point…in Skegness. To be fair, Gibraltar is UK territory…but there's a huge 1600 mile difference between the two points.
Sometimes, the accidents caused by Sat Navs are more serious. In Madrid, Spain, a 37 year old driver died after his Sat Nav took him down a road which led straight into a reservoir. As it was dark, the driver didn't see the water until it was too late. Closer to home, a pensioner in Barnsley died after waiting for an ambulance for nearly 45 minutes - the paramedics had been sent to a number of wrong addresses by their faulty Sat Nav unit.
So what could be causing these sometimes fatal errors in GPS navigation? One theory put forward by researchers is that increased radiation levels from the sun could be affecting the satellites and receivers, causing them to lose track of their position. It's also important to keep your maps updated as road layouts change over time, sometimes causing vehicles to be sent up narrow or non-existent roads. Or, as in my case, try to tell their owners that they actually live in a bus stop.
But despite evidence to the contrary, Sat Navs aren't all bad. Some insurance companies offer them free or discounted to new customers, as they can reduce the risk of breakdowns or accidents by giving the driver prior warning of hazards. A quick look on car insurance comparison sites will show competitive premiums and available benefits from UK insurers.