Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thoughts on Driving

The overly cautious drivers can be as dangerous on the road as those who are stretching the limits.  You know the ones who are going 40 mph in a 55-mph zone.  The ones who never dare to turn right on red, even when it is legal to do so.  The ones who not only stop at a stop sign, but wait for a while to start up again.

Many of them are undoubtedly new drivers, who are still getting used to being behind the wheel.  But more often than not, they seem to be immigrants (from my observation).  These are the people who don’t want to tangle with police under any circumstance.  They don’t want tickets or points and they definitely don’t want to be hauled into jail or worse yet, deported.  So they exercise extreme caution and often pose a hazard in doing so.  I see them every day.

On another driving topic, I think I must be one of the few people on the face of the earth who really hates using a GPS.  I do confess that it has saved us from many arguments when we are driving in unfamiliar and poorly marked cities like Boston.  It has taken the pressure off the navigator altogether, because we are deferring to the judgment of the female voice, who will simply recalculate if we fail to follow her directions.

I think most of my resentment has to do with the idea of being told what to do turn my turn by turn instead of having the “picture” in my head before I ever start driving and having a say in the route we take.  On quite a few occasions, I have observed the female voice not taking the most direct route or one that makes sense at rush hour.  If I thoroughly understand the route, I will also know alternative routes to take if we encounter traffic or an accident.  In my mind, there is still no substitute for a paper map that shows you what you are up against -- all of it at once!

Maybe I will change my mind in a few years, the way I slowly embraced the cell phone and other current technology.  But for now my first action upon getting into the Prius is to turn off the navigation system and simply use my intuition to navigate the city in which I live.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years and learned valuable lessons from them.  Weird, yes?


Blogger Cyndy said...

Not weird! Anyone with half a sense of direction should not need one to drive around the city in which they live. Maybe it is a sign of the times or something, but I think that people are going to eventually lose all sense of north and south if they never go anywhere without the GPS on. On the other hand I suppose there are times when it probably would come in handy. Obviously I don't have one which is why I can't yet appreciate how wonderful they must be.

Maybe all those slowpokes you encounter are driving that way because they are both new in town and don't have a GPS!

6:50 PM  
Blogger Rayna said...

I hate those stupid GPS's and would never have one. It is too annoying to have some voice telling me to "turn right 500 ft" --as if I had a clue of how far 500 feet was from where I am, as I drive.

I love finding alternate routes all by myself - I just say "what if I go THIS way????" and try it. Sometimes it's a great find and other times - oops. But either way it's a learning experience. My friend Helene calls me "back roads Rayna." LOL.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- You mean the way people forgot how to do simple math when calculators came out? I concede there is a time and place for a GPS, but if it's local and you've been there before, it's a good mental exercise to see if you can get there on your own the next time. At least I think so.

Rayna -- You and I are so alike on this. Sometimes I turn down a new road just to see where it goes. It drives some people (like my husband) crazy!

8:14 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

My son-in-law is one of those cautious immigrant drivers. He had never driven in Ecuador, never owned a car. It took him two years to get his drivers license after they moved here. I think when you wait until you are 40 years old to learn to drive you have seen too much and know too much about how dangerous it is! There is a lot to be said about learning to drive as a teenager when you feel invulnerable.

My husband would be lost without his GPS. I'm like Rayna. I have no idea how far 500 feet is. When we were driving a rental car in Wash. DC the GPS showed us in the middle of the Potomac at one point--we weren't. Even she (GPS lady) couldn't negotiate that maze!

3:29 AM  
Blogger lettuce said...

what i've heard about GPS is that it just can't be relied on to give the best route

but then, I don't yet drive, so....

6:35 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I like GPS if I'm in an area I don't know. But to drive around my own city I probably wouldn't use it.

A cautionary tale: Once when I was in Miami with a friend we decided to visit the Everglades, and he insisted on using GPS to get us there. Well, the stupid GPS directed us to the NORTH entrance of the Everglades, which is not the way to get to the main part of the park. So I still haven't seen most of the Everglades! Aaargh!

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't use GPS, on spiritual principle. It disconnects me from where I AM, from my journey of that moment, and from my own innate sense of place and direction. If I need a map I use a printed one (I LOVE maps!!).

And, as most folks now know, GPS is also reliably unreliable. One of the few times I allowed myself to be talked into using it (driving someone else's vehicle in a caravan of colleagues back home from a gig in the mountains), we ended up going 30 miles the wrong direction before herding the group back home for real. Thank goodness we weren't in any real danger! But I've read in the paper numerous times of people getting stranded in semi-remote areas due to assuming their GPS was correct.

Same w/Mapquest or other online directions -- I've been led astray myself many times when I've been sent directions in that form. I've learned to figure it out myself via a real map. Oh, Barbara, don't get me started -- OK, I'll shut up now!! :-)


3:10 PM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

Our GPS often gives the most odd directions.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm not a fan of GPS. I like reading maps and figuring out where I'm going. I like getting lost and finding my way out again. I'm sure I'm not always the best of drivers, but I have yet to meet the person who is. We all have our quirks.

9:07 PM  

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