In the 1960’s, Stanley Milgram conducted a set of experiments testing what insane lengths people would go to when being instructed by someone with authority. In one experiment participants were told to administer a series of increasingly severe electric shocks to another person. Twenty-six out of forty participants continued to the end including a final deadly 450 Volt shock.
Are we seeing a similar phenomenon with the modern GPS? Some people treat their Satellite Navigation systems as an ultimate authority and follow the directions without question, even when it would seem obvious that they are going the wrong way, sometimes not even on the road.
Here’s 8 mind boggling driving blunders that have been blamed on GPS;
Up a Hiking Trail
Robert Ziegler and his van had to be airlifted off of a Swiss mountain after he followed his GPS’s directions to drive onto a hiking path and up a mountain. Ziegler said he kept hoping that around the next bend he would find the road again but it never came. Eventually he was instructed to turn around but, by then, it was too late.
Into the Mud
Three young Japanese tourists got stuck in the mud when they drove off the road and into the ocean in Moreton Bay, near Brisbane.
One of the tourists said “it told us we could drive down there”. “It kept saying it would navigate us to a road. We got stuck . . . there’s lots of mud.”
Into a River
I guess since 70% of the earth’s surface is water we shouldn’t be surprised there are so many examples of people driving their cars into rivers, lakes and the sea… or not.
In this instance, three women following their GPS drove their rented four wheel drive down the boat ramp and into the river in Mercer Slough Nature Park.
Perhaps we can forgive them a little as they were not familiar with the area and it was dark, close the midnight.
Eric Keenan from the local fire department sums it up… “I don’t know why they wouldn’t question driving into a puddle that doesn’t seem to end.”
There have been numerous reports of people turning into oncoming traffic at the request of their GPSs. In this case, a man from NSW was pulled over for driving the wrong way on the Hume highway in Victoria, Australia.
The man told police that he had simply followed his GPS’s instructions and that he wasn’t worried by the oncoming traffic because he thought he was on a dual carriageway.
Locals and tourists at Gibraltar Point in the UK saw an odd sight when a huge truck squeezed its way down the narrow road towards the sea. The Serbian driver had left Turkey bound for Gibraltar in the South of Spain but his GPS had other ideas, honing in on the similarly named location in the UK.
The truck driver may not have been familiar with the route but you would think he might have noticed something was off with the weather or the fact he had to drive onto a ferry to cross the English Channel!
Into the Harbour
This guy was obviously very confused, or stupid or both. Apparently he’d just driven off the Ferry in a small Alaskan town, done a quick lap of the shops then headed back past the ferry to wherever he was going when his all-knowing GPS told him to turn right into the harbour… so he did.
The man and his two pet dogs made it out thanks to quick thinking onlookers but, sadly, his cat did not.
There have been several reports of people following GPS directions onto the train tracks, getting stuck and then having their car struck (and destroyed) by the next train.
Paula Celly, a 20 yo student from the UK, narrowly escaped death when she drove her car onto a train line without realising it. She was in a country area and thought the two gates just looked like ‘ordinary farm gates.’ She opened the first one, drove onto the tracks, then went to open the other gate and that’s when she noticed the train lines. She apparently considered getting back in the car and driving off quickly but luckily she didn’t because the quickly approaching train smashed into her vehicle shortly after.
Celly had this nugget of wisdom for would be GPS users… “I’ll never use a sat nav again. You rely on them and if it all goes wrong, you’re horribly stuck. People should be more careful with them – you never know where they might lead you.”
Off a Cliff (nearly)
Our final story for this article is that of Robert Jones who found himself teetering on the edge of a 100 foot cliff, saved from falling only by a fence, after following his SatNav’s directions.
Jones said “It kept insisting the path was a road, even as it was getting narrower and steeper, so I just trusted it.”
You would think a professional driver might have more driving care but I guess that’s the power of the all authoritative GPS.
The GPS might be a great device, saving us time and energy in many situations, however, when you switch yours on, don’t switch off your brain.