GPS navigation may be a lifesaver (sometimes literally) in all kinds of situations, but it can also put people in danger when used improperly.

Photo by Chris March @ Flickr

GPS navigation may be a lifesaver (sometimes literally) in all kinds of situations, but it can also put people in danger when used improperly.

The forthcoming government satnav summit is designed to address such problems in part, but there’s little technological solution for drivers who blindly follow electronic directions even when the view through the windscreen suggests an alternate route would be advisable.

Similarly, some GPS users’ reliance on the technology at the expense of more traditional — and reliable — navigation aids is also difficult to deal with and here’s one recent example that highlights how such a situation can get out of hand.

Grough magazine reports on the case of a walker who became lost in the Snowdonia National Park in February after the batteries in his GPS device ran out.

Once darkness fell, low cloud led the walker to become disorientated and, without any other means of navigation or direction finding, he was forced to alert the mountain rescue team. A 12-member search team then located the man, who was unharmed, three hours later.

The mountain rescue team stated that the walker was suitably dressed and had the appropriate equipment. But, as several commenters on the story at the Grough web site point out, that evidently didn’t include a paper map and compass.

So, just as anyone who ventures into more remote regions on foot should carry the means to navigate using methods that don’t rely on battery power, drivers should always pack an up-to-date road atlas when embarking upon a journey for which they’re going to rely upon satnav.


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