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Dangerous Directions: When GPS Drives You to Crash

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While vehicle GPS systems offer valuable information for drivers, they increase the risks for deadly crashes and injuries. GPS systems cause over 200,000 accidents every year in the U.S. These accidents are a result of inaccurate navigation maps, incorrect directions, wrong locations, and distracted driving.

Outdated GPS systems offer incorrect or out-of-date information, while newer systems tend to distract drivers. A faulty GPS that steers a driver to an incorrect location or provides a driver with wrong directions may expose the driver to an increased risk of injury. Rideshare drivers who depend on GPS to do their jobs, especially when operating in unfamiliar areas, are at a higher risk of getting into a rideshare crash.

Safety issues associated with faulty GPS

There are many accident reports associated with faulty GPS that either failed or offered inaccurate information and exposed drivers to dangers. Malfunctioned Google navigation maps and GPS features have also caused distractions that led to many accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes between 25% and 30% of all car accidents in the US to driver distractions. The agency ranks GPS navigation systems as one of the leading causes of distracted driving. Additional NHTSA studies demonstrate that configuring a GPS while driving increases the risk of a driver crashing by 23 times.

Who is liable for accidents caused by inaccurate GPS?

  • The driver. Although a faulty GPS can send a driver to a risky location, the driver may still be held legally responsible for the crash. A driver must watch out for the road conditions and available traffic signals all the time. If a GPS instructs a driver to cross an inexistent bridge or do something that’s forbidden by traffic signs, that driver must shrug off the GPS directions. If a driver carelessly follows inaccurate GPS directions and causes a serious crash, the driver may be legally responsible for injuries or wrongful deaths that result from that decision. The injured person(s) can recover damages by suing that driver and proving beyond reasonable doubt that the driver was negligent.
  • The manufacturer and programmer. Consumer protection laws require manufacturers and programmers to be reasonably careful when developing and programming GPS devices. If they develop defective devices, fail to fix known faults, or fail to inform users of known defects, then they can be legally responsible for accidents caused by those defects. Manufacturers and programmers may also be at fault when hitches in the satellites they utilize to transmit data to GPS devices cause a crash or when hackers use jammers and other tricks to interrupt or corrupt the signal. The simple explanation for this is that GPS manufacturers and programmers have a legal duty to consumers, which includes, but isn’t limited to, putting in place appropriate security measures to make sure the systems are safe and shielded from interference.

Final thoughts

A driver injured in a car crash caused by a GPS that failed or malfunctioned because of a manufacturing or programming error can secure reasonable compensation by suing the liable manufacturer or programmer. A car crash attorney can review the details of the crash to identify the ideal grounds for a negligence lawsuit or personal injury case against either the manufacturer or programmer.

Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.

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