Determining the route – do I trust navigation unreservedly?
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Determining the route – do I trust navigation unreservedly?

The belief that a navigation system will lead us to our destination without error sometimes leads us astray – literally and figuratively. So when is it worth to trust it? What influences the effectiveness of this type of application?

Where did car navigation come from?

Its beginnings are associated with military programs, which were carried out by the U.S. Army in the 60s of the twentieth century. For civilian purposes, it became available after 1983, when a civilian Jumbo Jet mistakenly entered USSR airspace and was shot down. Thanks to navigation such tragic situations could have been avoided – however, at first its accuracy was deliberately kept within the 100 m acceptable error range. The development of this technology was not possible without removing this barrier. This was finally accomplished in 2000. Since then, the evolution of car navigation systems has become a reality.

The advantages of car navigation

Consisting of a receiver, maps and a link between them, car navigation has a number of undoubted advantages. These include:

  • route mapping based on clearly defined parameters,
  • possibility of mapping the route according to preferences – the route we mapped is most often to be the shortest, but this is not the only option. We can choose the type of road and even its scenery,
  • clear way of operation – the hands-free mode and touch screen are now a standard,
  • the ability to automatically call for help,
  • built-in bluetooth, internet browser or audio-video set.

Disadvantages of navigation

Despite very great progress, car navigation has not achieved the status of flawless – it will probably always be subject to greater or lesser shortcomings. The following should be mentioned at this point:

  • signal loss (especially on underground car parks, in mountains and forests),
  • errors caused by improper synchronization,
  • problems resulting from neglecting synchronization of software and maps,
  • lack of map updates e.g. due to unplanned repairs.

It is also important to consider whether navigation itself has a negative impact on shaping certain skills in drivers. In the past, the ability to use maps and good orientation in the area were sometimes troublesome, but they taught how to find oneself in troublesome situations. Today, everything is based on electronic enhancements

What can happen when we blindly trust in a reference?

Uncritically accepting what an application suggests can lead to mistakes. Cases are often cited, supposedly true, where a resident of Belgium, instead of arriving at a nearby train station, arrived in Croatia, or about a British couple who drove into a church via navigation

As you can see, we can end our trip in a place where the application does not take into account a repair or simply in the middle of nowhere

GPS in a smartphone. Is it worth to use a cell phone?

Smartphones have become devices with many functions. One of them is the GPS. Is it worth to use the help of a smartphone also in this regard? One of the advantages of such a solution is the versatility of the phone as a source of car navigation.

A smartphone is also very handy. We carry it with us every day, so there should be no problem with forgetting the equipment

We also encounter the opinion that a cell phone connected to the Internet is able to update maps faster

What is the conclusion of our approach to navigation?

While taking advantage of the help offered by technology, you can’t exempt yourself from critical thinking. A British study has shown that blindly trusting GPS causes up to 300,000 dangerous traffic situations a year. Let’s keep this in mind before we blindly entrust our fate to navigation.


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