>In an age of laziness, where we’d prefer to let someone (or something) else be in charge, it seems technology is having the last laugh…
Drivers obeying directions given by a sultry satnav [satellite navigation] voice have crashed into rivers, construction sites and roadside toilets in Germany, and had similar accidents in Britain.
“It’s hard to understand how these things can happen,” said Maximilian Maurer, spokesman for the German motoring club ADAC.
“It’s not as if people are driving in a tank with only a small slit to see out. You’d think they have their own eyes and brains engaged to make decisions and not rely on the satnav. I used to think satnavs were ‘idiot-proof’, but perhaps not.”
In October a 53-year-old German, obeying his satnav’s command “Turn right now!” jerked the wheel over and crashed into a roadside toilet hut 30 metres (yards) before the crossing he was meant to take, causing 2,000 euros ($2,600) damage.
A few weeks earlier, an 80-year-old motorist also followed his satnav instead of common sense and ignored a “closed for construction” sign on a Hamburg motorway. He hit a pile of sand at high speed but was not hurt.
“I just thought the navigation system knew a shortcut,” Volker Heinemann was quoted as telling a local newspaper. His car had to be towed away.
An ambulance driver with a faulty satnav drove more than 600 km while transferring a patient from one hospital in Ilford east of London to another in Brentwood — 13 km away. He was near Manchester, northern England, before realizing his error.
Experts say that as cars get smarter, some people seem to get dumber, and the problem increases as more vehicles are equipped with the devices.
Joachim Siedler, spokesman for market leader Blaupunkt, said it was absurd to blame the gadgets for human errors and noted motorists are clearly warned the devices are there to help, not to take decisions.
“If a traffic light is red it’s obvious you have to stop even if the satnav says ‘drive straight on’,” he said. “People who drive into rivers and then blame their satnav are just too humiliated to accept blame themselves.”
How many of us will admit to doing this? Do you turn your brain off when you’re behind the wheel and let “the voice” guide the way?
Wish I could program one to find the best fried chicken joints in whatever area I happen to be passing through. A satnav like that would be worth its weight in gold.