Stupidity can be fatal

I recently rented a car in the USA, so I’ll use it as an example for the point I want to make, though the phenomenon is by no means exclusive to that car rental company nor the country – in fact, the same thing happened to me in Germany in a car rented from a different company. So, when you’re in a new place, you’re likely to need some way of navigating, and with the wonders of modern technology, a GPS guidance system makes sense. It certainly makes sense from a safety point of view – you avoid having to read paper maps or scribbled instructions from a piece of paper while driving. However, there’s one major FAILure that these systems suffer. Some bureaucrat somewhere has obviously decided that you need to be warned not to operate the system while driving. Great – I can understand that, you should pay attention when you drive, and the fewer distractions the better.
However, when you are actually driving, and you try to operate the GPS system, you then get a pop up screen warning you that you shouldn’t operate it while driving – which you have to click to acknowledge (after trying to read it while driving), and then you have to clear another screen to get to the actual navigation setup. Now, these popups don’t come when you’re stationary. So, when you most need to pay attention; while driving; you actually are distracted more by having to read a complex and annoying set of further instructions which has exactly the opposite effect to the intention. So you spend more time reading the screen and being distracted from your driving – the saftey message is much more likely to kill you than cure you from messing with the GPS, which is sometimes necessary. It seems to me that there’s much more to be gained by popping up the warning when you’re stationary, and if it’s so concerning that you can’t operate it while driving, you simply disable the ability to reprogram it while the car is moving – or just minimize the interference from the system, and allow fast reprogramming.

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