GPS Takes Drivers Off Course

Users of GPS (the Global Positioning System) say it has taken them off track an average of 4.4 times, a survey found.

Seven percent of all U.S. drivers who use GPS have been misdirected more than 10 times, according to a survey conducted in April of more than 2,200 adults. That number is higher among younger adults (18 to 34), who have been directed astray 6.3 times on average by GPS.


GPS is a travel aid relied on by almost a third of U.S. adults who drive to unfamiliar locations, but it comes in second to a combination of physical resources that include maps, printed directions, atlases and guide books. These tools are relied on primarily by nearly 40% of Americans who travel to unfamiliar destinations. Nearly half (46%) of U.S. drivers with cars still keep physical maps, including road maps and atlases, in their vehicles.


Older than 55? Then you’re more likely to carry a map or atlas, according to the survey, which found that more than half of drivers (57%) over the age of 55, more than any other age group, depend on paper navigational devices. Among drivers age 45 to 54, the number is 44%. For drivers age 35 to 44, it’s 39%.

Male drivers in the U.S. are more likely to primarily use GPS than women when traveling to new places. Geographically, the use of GPS as a primary guide is most popular in the Northeast, with 35% of drivers using it to help them navigate when travelling to unfamiliar places. Just a quarter of drivers in the West rely primarily on GPS.

Other travel aids cited in the survey include smartphone or tablet device (19%). Six percent of drivers say they rely on verbal directions they get from locals familiar with an area. Three percent say they rely on nothing at all to find their way around unfamiliar locations.