When GPS Sends You Awry

GPS tries to point you in the right direction like a compass points North.

Has the GPS ever steered you wrong? Do you worry about getting lost when you go to a new place? Have you ever counted on your GPS only to lose your data/cell connection? How do you prepare yourself to get where you need to be when it really counts?

Going in the Right Direction with GPS

We travel every day to get to the trucks that need our attention. Sometimes we know where we are going. You know, when you’ve been there before several times. But when it’s a new place – maybe “new to me” but not to the company – I don’t like to take chances. Especially since a lot of my driving is at night, it’s important to always have a clear understanding of my route.

Over the years, GPS units and directions have gotten a lot better. You may have heard stories about people following their GPS and not ending up where they expected. NPR reported about a woman who ended up in a lake in the early days of GPS use.

Now most of the time when there is a problem with your GPS directions, it’s because you get stuck in a traffic jam or find a closed road – or, more likely, you don’t have internet or cell service. I’ve found a few ways to prevent this problem from ruining my day.

If you do find an error with your GPS results, you can report them to help other travelers in the future.

Paper Maps aka “Old School GPS”

Paper maps were here long before GPS, and are still wonderful resources.

Yes, they still exist. And you can get them for free if you have a AAA membership. You can also go online to a number sites, including AAA and Google maps to get directions and then print them out. Never hurts to have a backup plan.

Popular Mechanics encourages people to use paper maps for a number of reasons, not the least of which is being able to plot out your trip. You can always rely on their accuracy and the fact that they won’t lose connectivity.

Offline Navigation

I found a few navigation apps that are made for use offline. One of them is better if you need it for leisure travel. It’s called Maps Me and it has a lot of detail – including things to see while you’re traveling – so it’s worth a try. Why not use your trip to or from work to find a place to stop and visit on an off day or on your way home? Another good one is GPS Navigation which is much more similar to online navigation. When you download the app, you’ll be prompted to then download maps. Choose what you need, and off you go!

Don’t get lost. Be prepared. Have a back up.