Finding Your Way – The Advantages and Disadvantages of Relying on GPS


Global Positioning Systems use satellites to accurately calculate your whereabouts on the planet. In our vehicles, GPS systems can hugely impact our abilities to easily find a desired destination, without having to pull over and fiddle with a map every half hour.

Originally manufactured by the US Department of Defense to improve military navigation capabilities, GPS units are widely available on a variety of everyday gadgets and tech pieces. Our cell phones now come standard with GPS, as do some watches. Although their convenience is often touted as one of the greatest modern advantages of the vehicle market, and their inclusion in vehicle marketing is widely known as a sign of prestige, GPS systems – like all technology – have their downfalls.

In this post we’ll investigate the advantages and disadvantages of relying on GPS, and why brushing up on your map-reading skills is never a bad idea.



GPS systems are a convenient addition to many models and makes of vehicles on the road today. They’re compatible with our vehicles in such a way that they can dictate in how many meters our next upcoming turn is going to be, making prepping for a change in vehicle position easy.

They’re also convenient because of many systems’ voice-activation features. Drivers can simply push one button and dictate to their vehicle’s GPS system the address or whereabouts of their intended destination. The system is able to interpret the human voice to calculate the route simultaneously while driving.


Because of information made available through satellites orbiting the earth two-times per day, GPS systems are able to transmit precise signals and orbital parameters, allowing the system to decode and translate coordinates with incredible accuracy. Consisting of at least 2 low-power radio signals, a GPS signal contains three types of information that tell the system integral pieces of information like satellite location, the transmitting satellite body, and where the GPS receiver should be located at any time. While already reliable, these ever-evolving technologies will help GPS systems become inevitably more reliability as time passes.

Traffic/Weather Alerts

One of the definitive advantages of vehicle-based GPS systems is their unique ability to calculate routes according to time-sensitive weather and traffic reports. For example, if you’re taking a popular major highway route when an accident ahead of you threatens to derail your arrival time, the GPS system in your vehicle will adapt to changing road and traffic conditions to calculate the next best route.

Alternatively, a good GPS system will also tell you to adjust your speed, or stick to a major route in the event of a severe weather system moving into the area in which you’re driving to help keep you from getting into an accident.


Tech is Tech

Technology is not all-seeing – and it can, and will, inevitably fail. Modern technologies like GPS tech, can of course undergo momentary lapses in judgement, they can break, and leave us high-and-dry in sensitive times.

Further, technology needs to be updated and lacks the ability to refresh its abilities – simply put, technology can’t learn. Over time, road names may change, new roads may be diverted, and others may be built – if your GPS system doesn’t automatically update, you could be leading yourself on a wild goose chase. Some GPS systems have also been known to lead people the wrong way down a one-way street, or even into harbours.

Complete Reliance of Technology

When we abandon traditional forms of intellect and knowledge – like how to properly read a map, for instance – we inevitably find ourselves in sticky situations where new technology can’t provide us with much help. Satellites must maintain a constant line of sight with a GPS receiver, and during inclement weather, or in a location that receives terrible signal – you may find yourself lost on the side of the road unable to figure out where you are.

Relying solely on technology is a growing problem that is plaguing all of humankind all over the globe – we have to maintain a sense of certain sense of basic abilities so that we’re able to solve problems independently of technology – no matter how reliable it may seem.

The bottom line? Don’t neglect the map in your glove box just yet. When you’re teaching your eager 16-year old’s to drive, sit them down and make sure they know how to use a map before they head of on their first road trip. GPS systems are staple pieces of technology in many makes and models of vehicles – and they can be worth their weight in gold – but we can’t always assume that technology will swoop in and save the day.

Keeping up on old school knowledge is a great way to make sure you can get to where you’re going.