GPS devices have been a mixed blessing. They can help people to get where they are going and reduce the chances of people getting lost. However, there are some downsides to using these convenient devices. They could contribute to increasing the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
What to Know When your GPS Contributes to a Motor Vehicle Accident
There are a few key facts you need to be aware of when it comes to the accident risks GPS devices can present:
- GPS devices may not always have accurate or comprehensive data: According to a recent New York Times article, most GPS devices do not include information on at-grade railroad crossings. One driver was directed by his GPS onto a railroad track where his car became stuck. He ended up leaving the truck on the train tracks, where it was hit by a commuter train. The accident resulted in the death of the train engineer as well as 32 injuries.
- GPS devices can be a distraction: GPS devices are dangerous not only when they take you to a dangerous place, but also when you pay too much attention to the device that you fail to pay attention to your driving and what is going on around you. GPS devices, like cell phones, are a leading cause of collisions related to driver distraction.
- GPS directions should not be given precedence over local road signs: New York Times warns motorists have been found to listen to GPS devices while ignoring road signs alerting them to pressing safety issues. A GPS could take your car to a place you shouldn't be, and you cannot just trust the app or device.
- YOU are ultimately responsible for an accident which a GPS device contributes to. It is up to drivers to use a GPS in a responsible way. If you follow your GPS onto a train track, you could be held accountable. New York Times indicated the driver who left his truck on the tracks is now facing vehicular manslaughter charges. Cases including Rosenberg v. Harwood have made clear that makers of map apps are typically not responsible in situations where the maps lead someone to an unsafe place. In Rosenberg, the plaintiff lost a case against Google Maps wherein she had alleged Google Maps should be responsible for her injuries in a pedestrian accident that occurred when she was led onto a rural highway by the mapping program running on her Blackberry.
An experienced car accident attorney can provide assistance after an accident involving a GPS. Victims hurt by a driver who made dangerous choices when using his or her mapping system can often pursue a claim for damages against the driver who used the GPS in a negligent way.