Keep an eye out for satellite navigation errors

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Sat nav

Satellite navigation is wonderful, but always keep an eye on the road in case it makes an error. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Satellite navigation is undoubtedly one of the greatest inventions of the past few decades, as it enables people to navigate much more easily than with maps. However, motorists should take directions with a grain of salt, as satellite navigation errors can be deadly.

Driving by satellite

Satellite navigation is amazing. However, there is a danger as an error can direct a person in the wrong direction. Similarly, errors can occur in not reading it correctly. People have paid the price with their lives and property.

GPS navigation units occasionally give people the wrong directions. According to the Daily Mail, a 2009 survey by the Automotive Association, the British equivalent of AAA, found that satellite navigation equipment gave wrong directions to one out of three respondents.

Nature provided eyes for use

Navigation unit companies, according to HowStuffWorks, get digital maps from suppliers. If those maps aren’t completely up-to-date, wrong directions result. If it occurs, the onus falls on the driver to use their eyes.

For instance, according to, the village of Exton, near the southern coast of England, has such narrow roads that the village has posted signs reading “No Wide Vehicles – do not follow sat nav.” However, the occasional vehicle gets stuck after not reading the signs and must be extracted.

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In 2007, according to Engadget, a German trucker ignored several blatantly posted “No Entry” signs while en route to a delivery in Switzerland, crashing his truck into numerous objects and receiving a fine. He ignored the signs in lieu of his GPS unit.

In 2008, the driver of a motorcoach ferrying a high school girl’s softball team to a game ignored road signs, including a few that flashed, which admonished tall vehicles not to drive under a foot bridge in the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, Wash., according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The driver relied solely on his GPS, wedging the 12-foot-tall bus under the bridge, which has nine feet of clearance.

Errors are as serious as the results they cause

Sometimes GPS-related accidents aren’t merely cheeky. According to, a woman in Park City, Utah, took Google Maps’ directions in crossing a four-lane highway on foot instead of looking for a crosswalk in 2009, resulting in her being serious injured after being struck by a car. She sued Google and her lawsuit was tossed.

In February of 2011, according to the BBC, Fernando and Trish Bardhaj, of Blackpool, England, were driving along with their four-year-old daughter, Ariana, when they made a right turn onto the A6 freeway, following their sat-nav and ignoring repeated signs reading “no right turn.” Their car was hit when they turned onto the freeway heading the wrong direction, resulting in their daughter’s death.

On May 24 of this year, according to the Daily Mail, 21-year-old Lauren Smee took a left turn using her sat-nav’s directions, despite signs warning not to take the turn, resulting in Smee turning into oncoming freeway traffic. She was killed when a BMW collided with her car.


Daily Mail




Seattle Post-Intelligencer:


Daily Mail:

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