More than Just a GPS Problem

Via Yahoo:  Woman drives 900 miles out of her way after GPS error

Put too much faith in technology and you may wind up in Croatia. A 67-year-old woman from Belgium learned that the hard way after she followed (faulty) directions from her GPS device.

The woman only wanted to go about 90 miles from her hometown of Hainault Erquelinnes, Belgium, to pick up a friend at the Brussels train station. Her GPS device sent her about 900 miles to the south before (during the second day of driving) she realized that something was amiss. It’s unclear if she entered the address incorrectly or if the GPS was faulty.

Ok, then.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Okay, I’m just going to suggest that there was something other than the GPS that was “amiss”

  2. You’d think the road signs no longer being in French would have been a hint.

  3. BIll says:

    You’d think the road signs no longer being in French would have been a hint.

    Not to mention border crossings. To go from Belgium to Croatia you would have to cross borders at least 3 times. Didn’t she have to stop? I traveled by car from Zakopane Poland to Prague Czech Republic in 2000 and had to stop at both the Poland-Slovakia border and the Slovakia-Czech border. Has the EU changed the continent that much?

  4. Seerak says:

    No kidding. Belgium is only about 180-190 miles at its longest. How exactly do you “amiss” going through all those borders?

    Even if this all happened within the Schengen zone, how do you miss the language changes on the signs? At the gas stations?

  5. de stijl says:

    she realized that something was amiss.

    In the hands of the proper person, this style of laconic journalism which eviscerates the subject without appearing to is “art” akin to the Mona Lisa. The set of adjectives that can be professionally deployed is just so circumscribed – to grab that paltry set and make it sing takes talent.

    Just what does that smile imply?

  6. JKB says:

    Don’t question the magic box. That would be to common sensical.

    To be fair, those whose profession involves navigation have followed the magic boxes to their distress. Although, one incident I know of was due to a faulty antenna introducing a subtle error. But still, you must confirm with your eyes and with other means. At a minimum, dead reckoning as in, I should be at point y in time x and I will transit distance z.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    In my neighborhood the GPS is totally screwed up – roads that aren’t there etc. I feel sorry for the poor cabbies and unsuspecting people who discover you can’t get there from here.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    There’s a larger lesson here than one woman and one GPS device. Using a computer (and a GPS is just a computer with a specialized I/O device and software) requires some level of common sense, some human intelligence. It’s not that they can’t be trusted; it’s that they can’t be trusted slavishly.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My wife is directionally challenged and has difficulties with map reading. Obviously she has a GPS. Many are the arguments that began with my saying it was wrong, don’t listen to it. She once even had to call me from Chicago to get her out of a situation when it got her lost. (I mapquested her location, than gave her directions until she got to a point she recognized) Still, it is better than nothing, for with out it she would be lost all the time.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    This reminds me of the time my roommate was driving all over Germany using the Autobahn and kept having arguments with her mother about this town “Ausfahrt” that was on all the signs and which they could NEVER find on the map…..

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @BIll: I think Schengen Ruulz apply.

  12. PJ says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think Schengen Ruulz apply.

    They would, but only up and until the border between Slovenia and Croatia.

    Not sure how she was able to cross into Croatia as she claims.

    Suddenly I appeared in Zagreb and I realized I wasn’t in Belgium anymore.

  13. Rob in CT says:

    Oh, BS.

    Alternatively, if it’s actually true, this woman should probably not be allowed on the road anymore. Yeesh.

  14. Dazedandconfused says:

    Ah! A “Corrigan Error”, in technical navigator-speak….

  15. Tillman says:

    Nine hundred miles?! Horseshit. In the days of the Iron Curtain, this couldn’t have happened. It would’ve been the plot of a Bill Murray/Harold Ramis vehicle otherwise.

    I could believe this in America, one contiguous country spread across thousands of miles, but fragmented Europe? Horseshit.