Has your sat nav ever guided you into the middle of nowhere, or worse, a crash? Would you care to admit that you were following your sat nav just a little bit too closely?
A report published this week by the Royal Academy of Engineering says that society may be dangerously over-reliant on GPS satellite navigation systems.
Not only can GPS fail completely, it can suffer from accidental interference, or even be deliberately and maliciously jammed.
This suggests that non-satellite back-ups are often absent or inadequate, which could have a major impact on the many industries that use sat navs. Aviation, shipping and the emergency services are just three of these industries.
What’s your GPS back-up?
I know that large aircraft have an array of navigation devices in the cockpit, of which GPS is just one. But when we’re driving our cars, what’s our back-up when our sat nav fails?
In my case, it’s an up-to-date road atlas in the boot of the car. I also feel that my childhood fascination of maps and road signs has probably helped me develop some decent navigation skills. And no, I’ve never followed the stars, but yes, I have sometimes got completely lost.
This built-in skill and experience is something younger drivers may lack – many of them will have relied purely on sat navs for their in-car navigation.
Common sense of direction
A quick trawl of the internet reveals stories of accidents, near misses and drivers going up one-way streets due to blindly following their sat nav. The statistics are startling, but some of the stories also raise a smile – google ‘sat nav blunders’ for example. Most point to a temporary loss of common sense.
This shows that sat navs are a great tool to take the hassle out of driving, but common sense and a good back-up plan should always be in tow.