Drivers Beware: Can GPS Lead to Car Accidents?

close up of driver changing gps while driving
October 24, 2018
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

The Dangers of Car GPS Systems

Global positions systems (GPS) can be a huge timesaver when it comes to getting from point A to point B. Whether you’re taking a road trip, navigating an unfamiliar city, or just trying to make your way around a big traffic jam, GPS can be a tremendous help.

However, it can also be a serious distraction. As more and more distracted driving crashes occur because of GPS, motorists must be cautious to use their GPS systems responsibly. Paying attention to a GPS can put you and everyone around you in danger. If you have been the victim of a car accident, it’s important to contact experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Rand Spear today to discuss your options.

How Many GPS Crashes Happen Each Year?

According to a Wired report, GPS systems have caused about 300,000 car accidents in the UK. In the United States, there were 40,000 motor vehicle accidents in 2017, which is only a one percent decrease from the previous year and not that promising of a statistic when you consider that traffic fatalities climbed above 40,000 in 2016 for the first time in a decade.

While not every car crash in the United States is caused by using a GPS, experts say the percentage that is caused by their use is only increasing. One survey reports that 59 percent of drivers talk on the phone while they’re driving, and 77 percent say they use a GPS.

Additionally, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah reveals that texting is no longer the most distracting thing you can do behind the wheel. That distinction goes to programming a navigation device, which is now the number one most distracted driving behavior.

Experts say that programming a GPS or other navigation device requires much more of a person’s attention than texting. For one thing, it tends to take longer. Drivers must pull their eyes away from the road and punch in information like address numbers and street names.

While some cars have hardwired GPS systems that automatically disable when the car is in motion, other GPS systems are external, which means they don’t have these features. Additionally, many motorists now use GPS apps like Waze, which operate from a smartphone and can be used whether or not a vehicle is in motion.

Philadelphia Drivers Say GPS Apps Are Dangerous

According to a CBS Philly report, area drivers say navigation apps like Waze are making the roads more dangerous. There have been cases in which drivers followed the directions offered by Waze, only to turn onto train tracks as a train approached, or off the end of a ferry in an unfamiliar area.

While it may sound unbelievable that anyone would follow GPS directions into danger, it’s quite easy to get confused and disoriented when you’re driving in unfamiliar terrain or the dark. Motorists depend on these apps to guide them safely, and they definitely don’t expect to be steered wrong.

Some motorists also point to the warning features in apps like Waze. For example, Waze gives drivers the opportunity to note when they see a police officer, which allows other drivers to pinpoint spots where an officer is likely to be sitting, monitoring drivers for excessive speed. Motorists can also note traffic jams, accidents, and construction zones.

While these features are undoubtedly designed to be helpful, they require a motorist to input them manually, which means taking one’s eyes and attention off the road.

In a tragic case in Lehigh County, a mother was looking at her GPS when she was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident that took the life of her three-year-old son. According to reports, she was looking at a GPS app on her smartphone when she crossed the yellow line and struck a truck head-on.

Tips for Using GPS Safely

There are many things you can do to ensure you stay safe while using a GPS system. If you need a GPS for navigation, keep in mind that safety should always be your first priority.

  • Program before you go – Don’t program your destination into your GPS while you’re driving. Give yourself enough time to input your information before you leave the driveway.
  • Use voice text if you can – If possible, use your voice features to make changes to your destination. Keep in mind, though, that it’s always better to pull over if you need to change something.
  • Ask a passenger to help – Enlist a passenger for help making changes to your route or destination.
  • Learn your GPS before you drive – The middle of the highway is not the best place to learn all your GPS system’s features. Take time to learn the ins and outs before you get behind the wheel.
  • Keep your eyes on the road – Always keep your eyes and attention on the road.
  • Stop if you need to – If you need to make a change or input a new route, find a safe spot to pull over and park.

If you have been in a car accident contact Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Rand Spear.

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Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Rand Spear

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