Global Positioning Systems (GPSs) are invaluable tools for countless drivers. With a GPS, detailed directions are readily available. Yet, GPS devices have been linked to numerous car accidents in the United States. Between incorrect directions and distracted driving crashes, some drivers wonder if the benefits outweigh the risks of having a GPS. It is important to learn more about why GPS-related car accidents occur and steps to take to prevent them.
How Does a GPS Work?
Most drivers have used a GPS at some point. Most units instruct users on which lane to travel, when exits and stop signs are approaching, and even alert when construction and motor vehicle accidents are up ahead. Three components that make up a GPS include:
- Space: A GPS tells users their exact position on earth at any given time. This innovative technology uses a series of satellites stationed approximately 11,000 nautical miles above the earth’s surface to collect data and transmit it back to ground stations across the globe.
- Ground: Twice a day, GPS satellites orbit the planet, sending signals of information back to earth.
- User: Receivers use this information, along with latitude and longitude coordinates, to compute the user’s precise location and direct them from one place to another. GPS devices work continuously and during all types of weather conditions, which is extremely beneficial for all users.
Can a GPS Cause a Distracted Driving Accident?
Although they are designed to be useful, GPS devices cause a staggering number of motor vehicle accidents every year. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calls a GPS a leading electronic distraction for drivers, noting drivers are more likely to crash while programming their navigational devices than texting.
A 2017 University of Utah study backs that claim. Commissioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA), the study required participants to perform four different tasks with various voice, touch screen, and other interactive systems. Each participant sent a text, made a call, tuned the radio, and entered directions into a GPS.
The research team recorded how mentally, visually, and cognitively demanding each task was and how much time was required to complete each task. Tasks were rated from low to high demand. To give some perspective, a high-risk task is the equivalent of balancing a checkbook in one’s head while driving. Programming a GPS was rated the most demanding task of all, taking an average of 40 seconds to complete. To understand just how dangerous it is to use a GPS while operating a vehicle, if a driver takes their eyes off the road for two to three seconds, a serious collision could occur.
Inaccurate Directions Pose a Risk to Drivers
While global positioning technology is invaluable in many ways, GPS devices are not infallible. Anyone using a GPS on a regular basis has most likely experienced a miscalculation or incorrect information at some point. If a user suspects that there is a miscalculation, it is essential that they safely pull over and recalculate the directions.
Safety Tips for Using Navigational Devices
When they are used safely, a GPS saves time, gas, and frustration. With a bit of preparation, drivers can prevent car accidents that are caused by navigational devices. Follow these simple steps to use a GPS safely and arrive on time:
Program Directions Before Leaving: A user should always enter directions into the GPS before leaving the driveway. Drivers can opt to include icons for gas stations, restaurants, and landmarks, making it easier to navigate unfamiliar areas. Most GPS devices re-route drivers who miss turns or get lost. This way, drivers do not have to reprogram units while operating their vehicles.
Utilize Voice Directions: Activate audio directions and test sound and volume before departing. Voice directions keep drivers from having to look at screen displays in the dashboard or on the phone. GPS units are designed to give users plenty of notice to prepare to stop, turn, and merge. This prevents panicked swerving and sudden lane changes.
Avoid Driving Hazards: A GPS helps drivers avoid common roadway hazards, including construction, traffic congestion, and accidents. Check the device instructions to update firmware, and ensure it is receiving the latest satellite data on changing traffic patterns and road repairs.
A GPS is Not Perfect: With any type of technology, users must expect flaws. Checking local news sites and other resources for up-to-date weather and local road construction is always a good idea. When something seems amiss, drivers should trust their intuition and avoid routes that seem unsafe. If a new route is needed, pull over and reprogram the GPS or ask for help.
What Should I Do After a GPS-Related Accident?
Even when a driver uses a GPS safely, there are no guarantees other drivers around them are being responsible. Anyone involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver should take the following steps to stay safe and preserve evidence for a future legal claim:
- Assess the car accident scene. Determine if anyone is seriously hurt and avoid moving injured individuals.
- Call for help after an accident. Call for an ambulance and police assistance. If possible, move vehicles safely out of traffic until help arrives.
- Document all available evidence at the scene. Take photographs of the accident scene and file a police report. If it appears the driver was texting or using a GPS when the crash occurred, share suspicions with the police.
- Collect contact information from everyone at the accident scene: Gather contact information from individuals involved in the accident and anyone who may have witnessed the crash.
- Consult a lawyer after a collision: Schedule an appointment with a lawyer who has experience resolving distracted driving accident claims.
- Make a call to the insurance company: After speaking with a lawyer, report an accident to the insurance company.
How can a Lawyer Help a Car Accident Victim?
Since it is not always easy to prove a driver was distracted when they caused a crash, seek the guidance of a seasoned lawyer to manage a personal injury claim. A lawyer’s job is to review every detail of the accident, determine who is at-fault, and take the necessary steps to fight for financial compensation. A financial award from a lawsuit helps injured accident victims pay for medical care and replace lost income.
Delaware also allows punitive damages in cases where drivers acted with extreme carelessness without regard for human life. Although collecting punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases, they are important to pursue. Distracted drivers endanger anyone traveling around them and should be held responsible for accidents, injuries, and property damage.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Victims Injured in GPS-Related Car Collisions
A distracted driver can cause irreparable damage in a matter of seconds. It is impossible to drive safely while looking down at the phone or programming a GPS. Our Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC fight for the rights of victims injured by reckless drivers. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-888-1221. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Newark, and Middletown.