Are GPS a Safety Issue?

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:05
ThreadID: 53826 Views:2765 Replies:16 FollowUps:22
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One cant help but see the interest in GPS that currently permeates this Forum. It seems everyone is about to buy or already has one. Being a miserable old fart, they dont appeal to me
at all. I have seen one operate in the metro area & sure, in those
circumstances it appeared very useful, if you dont know where you
are going. Why would you need one for outback travel unless in
uncharted territory?. Sorry, I've wandered off course, another
senior moment...back to the subject.. If Mobile phones are
a safety risk, DVD players a safety risk, why arent GPS devices
also a safety risk?. Do not they display a constantly changing
screen to distract the driver?. Perhaps the wise sages that lurk
herein can explain.....oldbaz.
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Reply By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:18

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:18
I don't believe you can categorise the GPS in the same category as DVD players and mobile phones, unless you are playing with the GPS buttons while you are driving. I input my destination before I drive and then from then on in I dont need to touch it, it directs me with both a visual and voice command. Úsed like this they increase safety because the driver is well aware of up coming turns and navigational issues whereas the old street directory or waiting until you can read the street sign before you turn can be very very dangerous. How many times do you see someone making a last minute turn..? They weren't using a GPS..!

On the negative side if you follow the GPS and it tells you to keep driving straight ahead on a Pier you could be in deep deep trouble....
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Follow Up By: Smudger - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:26

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:26
Yeah ..and I 'spose it never argues with you either!
But, I bet it don't keep you warm at nite.

I tend to agree with Oldbaz. Maps have got me around prettywell 'til now. In a forest GPS may be useful to help find your way out if you get lost. Useful too, if you need to give a location to the rescuers on the satphone. Otherwise, seems to me they're just the newest smash-n-grab target in Australia.
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:29

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:29
Who said anything about replacing maps..? You always take both.
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Follow Up By: HowdyDoody - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:53

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:53
Mine beeps at me when I'm exceeding the speed limit - surely that is not a safety issue.
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:59

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:59
Thanks for a well reasoned response, it seems GPS may have
factors in favour re safety as well as my percieved pitfalls. I'm
still a bit concerned that a screen may be a distraction to those
who refer constantly to it & perhaps lose concentration...oldbaz
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:02

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:02
HowdyDoody, I concede that is a safety issue, but only if you
heed the warning, & iI'm sure you do :))...oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:03

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:03
Oldbaz, When you get a chance try one out, take it for a spin, then you can make up your own mind. When positioned correctly they aren't a distraction and the only time you need to look at them is when you are wanting a quick visual before and up and coming turn etc. Mind includes Red Light & Speed camera warnings which is useful to, when you are in a new area.
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:12

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:12
TerraFirma, you have raised another couple of things re GPS that
I was unaware of...Red Light & Speed Camera warnings. While I
do not dismiss the technology out of hand I still dont see myself rushing out to buy one. Then again I recall a bloke that looked a bit like me saying he would never need a computer or mobile
phone either....oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Member - Steve Y (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:12

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:12
But. HowdyDoody. it is nagging :-) It could be a safty issue for it!
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 19:28

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 19:28
HowdyDoody posted:
Mine beeps at me when I'm exceeding the speed limit - surely that is not a safety issue.

My wife does this too Howdy but what software do you use to replace the rude words with beeps????
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Reply By: jdwynn (Adelaide) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:33

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:33
Oldbaz

IMO, I don't think GPS's need to be a distraction anywhere provided you stop when needing to concentrate on map details etc. I have been lost (in concerning but not disastrous circumstances) in the bush and I got to say that getting lost in the bush could be a definite safety issue that can be prevented with a GPS. JD
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Follow Up By: Member - Barnesy (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 23:39

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 23:39
Agree JD. I've never wanted a GPS before. Now that we are travelling remote, by ourselves and on unfamiliar roads the GPS is an asset. It prevents us from getting lost, or if we did get lost we are able to use coordinates to find where we are on the paper map.

Barnesy
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Reply By: Member - andrew B (Kununurra) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:35

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:35
I think the gps is great, reduces distrasction as mentioned above in traffic situations, and is fantastic offroad. Finding tracks on googls earth, transferring them to the gps, and go find the place. You know how to get there, and how far away it is In the past you go down a track that gets progressively worse, often not knowing what you have got yourself in for. With the gps, the decision as to turn back or not is made simpler as you know how much further, so you won't turn back when the place of interest is just around the corner, or another 30 k away.


Another good thing one has done recently, a mate mooved into a suburb of dead ends and it was a bit of a maze. He recorded a track on his gps, emailed it to me, and I drove strait there without backtracking or getting lost.....as I said above, I love them.

Cheers Andrew
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:26

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:26
Hi Oldbaz
Firstly most people get mixed up with street navigation units and the conventional hand held GPS. Both unit receive information from satellites.
You will find that it is the street navigation units that have the well detailed city maps, with voice prompts on which way to go etc..
When it comes down to the good old GPS, you will find that people that use them are the ones that go bush, with pre plotted waypoints and even going as far as having them linked to a laptop with moving maps.
If you are only driving in built up area, the street navigation will well exceed the hand held GPS, but take it bush, or even out on a body of water and you may as well not bother to turn them on.

Each to their own as both units offer different tasks.

Who wants to be driving around built up areas anyway. Give me a conventional GPS (which I have, as well as a laptop and Ozi) and head bush where you will have more fun. As for a safety factor, in the event of trouble, you will be able to advise someone exactly where you are by giving them your coordinates, proving that you have a radio to send the message out.


Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:13

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:13
Thank you, Stephen, you too have added to my knowledge of the subject. I too have seen screens mounted at windscreen level, as mentioned below, & wondered if this is legal...oldbaz.
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Reply By: SKP - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:37

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:37
GPS are certainly a safety issue when they are fitted halfway up the windscreen, just to the left of the drivers line of sight, as was the case with the driver that I was following yesterday.

I couldn't believe it, it would have blocked most of her vision in that critical area where a child could dart out from between parked cars.

As someone said to me recently "common sense ain't common"!!!
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:53

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:53
I've a driver with GPS in that postion whether they'd been pulled by the Police for having the GPS in that position, I wsn't totally surpised at the reply "What the hell for".

Some people are so stupid that they need the brick to fall on their head before being able to recognise a potential danger.
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Reply By: Louie the fly - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:47

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:47
I reckon a hot looking missus, or noisy kids in the back, are as much, if not more, of a distraction than a GPS.

My GPS tells me not to use it while driving. I have to agree to this before it will work. Spose its then up to me to do the right thing. Do you use a UHF on your travels?
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:25

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:25
Hi Louie, Do I use a UHF when travelling? No, just another gadget
to clutter up the wagon. All you hear is the inane chatter of folks
travelling together. No doubt fun for them but hardly enlightening
for anyone else. Safety factor?. Not really, only good for a few k.
I am not anti all this stuff, just dont need it for my travels.
It is all weight & takes up space. I use less fuel & have room for
Bundy...Cheers...oldbaz.
PS. I have seen serious accidents caused by idiots on UHF
telling people to overtake & then collecting some poor bugger who comes out of aside road or gateway they cant see.
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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:50

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:50
"If Mobile phones are a safety risk, DVD players a safety risk, why arent GPS devices also a safety risk?."

You'll have to ask our moronic lawmakers why there are very severe penalties for holding a Mobile Phone, even while stationary at the kerb if the engine is running - yet no courier driver ever gets charged for talking on a two-way radio or typing away on their despatch terminal while driving in three lanes of traffic at 800 km/hr.
AnswerID: 283321

Reply By: Willem - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:53

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 13:53
Yeah well, now we have 2

My 'old' GPS is a Magellan 330 and coming up for 5 years of age.

I use it regularly to check my speed when travelling as the GQ speedo is untrue. The Magellan is mounted out of my line of sight to what is in front of me.

I am always interested in height above sea level....dunno why....lol

I never bother with waypoints or plots or preferred routes etc BUT I use my GPS in conjunction with my laptop when doing treks in very remote or trackless country. This where it comes into its own and is a handy tool.

The missus has just bought we TomTom with voice instructions and a speeding warning and that is what she wants. Once you have the GPS up and running and set for whatever thing you want it to do you rarely have to look at it

I am an old fart as well but I just love all the new technology....when it works!!!...lol

Go on...get yourself one!!!!

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:35

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:35
Ah, Willem, you know I am too much of a minimalist traveller to
ever indulge in such frivolities. But, then again, I may weaken under sustained public pressure....cheers...oldbaz.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:09

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:09
Hi OldBaz

The GPS I use has both street level stuff and records your tracks
as well and I think it is one of the best things around.

The ability to be able to follow your own path back to some known point and know roughly where you are is a magic tool for those who go bush.

Even a couple of weeks ago when I had to play ambulance it proved its value.

It worked out a path to a hospital 150km away that I have never been to and saved time doing this when it counted.

Later driving back to camp past midnight when I was getting tired
I followed my own tracks back to camp taking turn off's I would have had trouble sorting out in the pitch black.

By looking at the contours and road paths ahead I got a rough idea of the road ahead and also possible phone contact points.

Knowing when dark, that the road infront of you is not straight is also valuable as it allows you to avoid concentrating on the GPS when its not so safe.

Some technology is useless but GPS is magic.
Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:32

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:32
Robin, you raise some very valid points & obviously know how to use the technology to advantage. My concerns stem more from the screen distraction viewpoint, & also the common location of
screens in windscreen line of sight. I am not sure of the legality of that. There must be some guidelines or rules I would think.
cheers...oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 16:00

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 16:00
Yep they could and do distract one - but it a question of degree and common sense.

I specifically mount mine in the line of sight so that when looking at it one gets some background input from whats happening on the road. I also use it driving.

Its sort of like a speedo etc , the biggest real distraction I have is watching speedo to much so as not to get caught.

Particularly in school 40 kmh zones - I never have taken my eyes off the road so much since these came in along with some dumb speed limits in places here, whereby the normal operation of a set cruise control could still see you booked.

In this real context the GPS is a help not a hinderance.

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Follow Up By: Member - Fred G (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:10

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:10
You can't tell me they're gonna lead you through speed zones like the ones on the South side of Murrurrundi (New Eng. H'way) where there are about seven zones in a couple of K's, including a school zone, and a speed camera thrown in.
I wonder if the magistrate will take into account that your GPS didn't have the correct info..
One doesn't have to drive on the speed limit, you can drive under it.....Remember, you can get charged for not driving to the conditions, even if your not over the speed limit.
Use them as a navigation guide only, and only as a rough guide for anything else. They are not gonna replace your eyes. IMHO :-)
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Reply By: Von Helga - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:35

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:35
GPS receivers are a Navigational tool .. no different to a Compass simply a tool.
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Reply By: Gerhardp1 - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 15:06

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 15:06
Old drivers are also a safety risk, especially when they are trying to listen to the navigation system while talking on the mobile and lighting up a fag during gear changes and lane changing.
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Follow Up By: Member - Fred G (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:13

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:13
So young ones aren't...?????
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Follow Up By: Gerhardp1 - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:21

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:21
Ha ha, didn't say that :)

Just jibing that the device in use is not the problem, it's the always nut behind the wheel :)
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Follow Up By: Member - Fred G (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:25

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:25
I know..:-)
Someone once said the most important part of any vehcle is the nut on the wheel ...cheers...:-)
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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 16:52

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 16:52
Reading a Street Directory lying on the Driver's lap is safer ???
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Follow Up By: Member - Fred G (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:17

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:17
Nah..the best place is on the dash in front of you, just under where they now stick the GPS...hahahahahah :-)))
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Reply By: Mal58 - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 17:15

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 17:15
We bought my eldest son one of the GPS navigators with voice guidance for Christmas. He let us use it when we traveled into Sydney (we are Melbournites) and it was particulary helpful in directing us with the highway and street changes etc when we had to traverse the northern parts of Sydney.

On our other journeys with it, we did find that it was not always correct. Several times telling us to turn or merge left etc when in fact you could not.

While they can be a distraction, the other danger is that they are not always correct, so it is probably not a good idea to slave-ishly follow the directions without really knowing where you are going.

Cheers,
Mal

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Reply By: greenant - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:26

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 18:26
I dont see what all this fuss is about
for about $30 get an external aerial ( much smaller than a phone aerial ) for the navigator and mount it where ever you want if you are worried about line of site on the windscreen

Greenant
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 20:08

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 20:08
I dont know why u have to mount it where u can see it anyway.
I have Tom Tom on my mobile phone and its mounted down by the gear lever on the console in the cruiser.
I just set it and listen to what it tells me and do it when necessary.
One thing I always do is plan the journey prior to going and run the demo of it to make sure its correct.
That way u dont need to look at it at all which in my view is the safest and correct way to use them.
I agree about mounting in middle of windscreen is a definite hazard.
I saw an old guy with his stuck dead center yesterday and thought "well hope a small car doesnt come out of a side road as u wont see it mate".
I wont even let the garage put my oil change stickers on the windscreen unless its right down the bottom below the bonnet line level.

Windscreens are for looking thru unobstructed by GPS, fluffy dice and especially by those bloody crystals that flash in your eyes. Only an absolute D***Head would have them dangling from a mirror and flashing to distract you all the time.
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Reply By: Russ n Sue - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 07:59

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 07:59
Oldbaz,

I run two GPS units simultaneously. One drives a navigation program on my laptop. Like the others have commented here, I pre-program my trip and it talks to me. I don't have to look at the screen. For us, this is a very valuable tool as we are travelling Oz full-time and do not know our way around any of the towns and cities outside of our home state of WA.

The other GPS records our trip details and track information. This is useful for fuel economy calculations etc, but more importantly, it allows us to "replay" trips and garner details that can be useful to other travellers. This info can also be useful to contest alleged speeding infringements (in some states). Not that we speed, but radar systems are not infallible.

Neither of these GPS or Navigation systems actually require me to look at them while driving, so I don't perceive any safety risk at all.

Cheers

Russ.
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Reply By: DIO - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 10:20

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 10:20
So far, authorities have accepted that GPS mounted/affixed in vehicle is a 'drivers aid' and as such (unless said driver is stupid enough to operate buttons/select functions etc whilst driving) NOT considered a 'hazard/distraction' such as mobile phones, reading street directpries, picking your nose, cleaning out ear wax, putting on make-up and so on. HOWEVER if the unit is mounted in such manner as to create or cause restricted visibility to the driver then it would be considered a hazard.
AnswerID: 283477

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