Recent News

GPS: To use or not to use?

Apr 27,2020

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an imperative tool for drivers worldwide, aiding drivers to find the right direction using the advent of state of the art navigation technology. With the advent of the GPS, drivers can have a peace of mind as it provides current traffic updates like road conditions, suggests shorter routes and informs us of nearby amenities along our commute. However, with any technology comes its unintended downsides.

The GPS and its Glory

With around 3.5 Billion smartphones in the world, the advent of the GPS provides a readily available option of a driving tool for any driver. The Google Maps function on our smartphones, in example, gives us the exact location of our destination and step-by-step directions to our destination with the use of 31 satellite transmissions orbiting around the earth, transmitting signals as they go. Though initially used as a tool for military navigation, the GPS has proved to be one of the most quintessential accessories for drivers, travellers and commuters worldwide.

In Singapore, it is not uncommon to be seen using a GPS on your phone as you drive through our small yet highly connected city. Convenience, safety and peace of mind knowing that this smart device would bring you to your destination are just some of the many reasons as to why this free application is a must-have for many on the road. It is no wonder why some car rental services and car models provide dedicated GPS devices built into the car or the rental plan. Listening to its turn-by-turn directions also provides a reassuring way of knowing that you are headed towards your destination. This is essentially especially for tourists and travellers who intend to rent a car with a foreign licence in Singapore as they may be unfamiliar to roads of Singapore. Additional benefits of having a GPS also include suggestions of cafes, petrol kiosks, car parks and other important amenities you can explore.

Is There Such a Thing as Over-reliance on GPS?

However, is there such a thing as having an over-reliance on the GPS device?
Perhaps having blind faith on your GPS device might not be the most steadfast thing to do.

For one, relying on the GPS excessively may damage your navigation abilities. With constant use of navigational devices, preliminary findings have led neuroscientists to believe that these devices could negatively affect our brain structure and function. For example, the hippocampus, where spatial maps of the world are created around us to help us understand and navigate the spatial world around us, would be redundant as we rely more on the devices rather than working our brain muscles. With the constant use of the GPS, our spatial knowledge and the ability of navigating and orienting ourselves in our environment would become obsolete. This suggests that long term usage of these GPS devices may have an effect on brain structure, function and cognitive abilities and this leads to worrying consequences like having a higher tendency of having screen addictions and losing the connection of the world around us.

Furthermore, it could act as a behind-the-wheel distraction for drivers. Especially for novice drivers who enjoy the convenience of cheap car rentals are still getting the hang of the vehicle and the road, having the GPS could do more harm than good as he/she might be distracted by the constantly changing visuals and audio instructions.

Some dangerous distracting GPS behaviours include:

  • Programming the GPS while driving.
    • As of 1st February, 2015, holding any mobile device while driving is illegal. First time offenders can be fined $1000 and/or jailed for up to six months. Repeat offenders could be fined $2000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months. Since the use of mobile devices is a crime, then won’t typing and changing your destination GPS while driving be akin to texting while driving?
  • Muting the GPS.
    • Unbeknownst to many, muting the GPS might seem as the less distracting way of driving. However, that would also mean that drivers would have to take their eyes off the road to look at the GPS. This poses a question of which is the more distracting option.

Lastly, the GPS signals may sometimes be unreliable, especially in highly populated infrastructure-dense areas. In some instances, the GPS signals may become faint as they might bounce off different structures, creating false configurations and signals seen by the GPS receivers. Hence, although rare, there are cases where accidents occur due to the following of incorrect instructions from the GPS. An example: a man in New Jersey, while following the GPS, made an illegal left turn on Route 33 which caused a four-car pile-up. That led him to several parking tickets and having to face an onslaught of angry drivers. His excuse: his GPS “told him to turn left”. While this is an overseas example, it serves as a reminder that dangers of blindly following the GPS would lead to undesirable and possibly harmful consequences.

Recommendations:

If you intend to get a short-term car rental in Singapore, it is encouraged to:

  • Use a GPS only when necessary (e.g. when you are travelling to unfamiliar territories).
  • It is also advised to read the map in advance to familiarize yourselves with the route.
  • This would also help you make the best car rental experience by enjoying the sights and landmarks throughout your journey.
  • Listen to the instructional directions carefully and always read traffic warning signals and road signs while on the road to avoid unintended traffic accidents.
  • When in doubt, stay calm and observe traffic signs.

Rent a Car in Singapore with Bizlink Rent-A-Car

The recommended guidelines on the use of GPS, we at Bizlink Rent-A-Car would like to extend our support in helping you find the most suitable car rental package that would meet your needs. Reach out to us at 6285 6616 to get a quote or to enquire today! We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

References:

https://www.vox.com/2016/4/10/11379698/gps-navigation-brain-problems
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6020662/
https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/mobile-devices-and-driving-what-you-need-to-know-about-changes-to-road-traffic