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Road Sage

The idiot's guide to driving with a GPS Add to ...

Last week, an elderly British couple drove their Renault into a church in the German town of Immenstadt near the Austrian border. The vehicle's 76-year-old driver rammed their sporty French ride into the side of the place of worship causing $34,000 of damages. Why would they do such a thing?

Were they die-hard atheists who wanted to make a point?

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Were they contests in a new BBC2 seniors-themed Jackass-type game show?

Were they settling a score left over from the last Great War?

Nope. They crashed their car into a house of God because they were following a higher power - they rammed their automobile into a church because their GPS told them to.

Now, I wasn't happy to see that such an accident occurred but I was a little satisfied. It confirmed a theory that I've been swirling around for the last few months. This theory could revolutionize driving and, when automotive history is finally recorded, be right up there with the invention of an alternative to fossil fuel.

My theory is simple: Anyone who uses a GPS is an idiot.

Some skeptics will cry foul. You can't generalize about such a large group of people. Sure, they'll say, 80 per cent of those who use global positioning systems are idiots, but the other 20 per cent aren't stupid, they're just lazy. Well, Mister Scientist, I may not have the book-learning that you do, I may not have gone to a fancy college like Trent or Laurentian, but I do know that any human being who surrenders their automotive destiny to a computer is seriously lacking in the grey matter.

You want a little proof?

It seems like every week there is a new story about some driver winding up in Antarctica because he or she was obeying the will of the mighty machine. Experiment yourself. Try loading your home address into a GPS. You may be already home but it will tell you to drive 50 kilometres through urban sprawl and isolated side roads, taking you on the least convenient route, until you finally wind up where you started.

Why were the things even created? Was the human brain found wanting? Before, if you were travelling to parts unknown, you a) consulted a map and then b) got in your car.

All the GPS does is allow the lazy and ill-prepared to hop in their cars and get in my way. And why is using a cellphone while driving is illegal, but staring blankly at your GPS while almost causing countless accidents is okay? It's as bad or worse a distraction.

The most extreme of all these transgressions is the use of general positioning systems by taxi drivers. You get in a cab, and give the guy your destination, he types it into a system with the same-quality graphics as you saw in Star Wars: A New Hope and then off you go on some insane route that's going to cost a fortune.

Driving a cab is an honourable profession or it should be. When I lived in London, you'd see aspiring cabbies out on their mopeds "learning the knowledge." They had to study the city's streets because they were going to join a league of professional drivers who took pride in their work and they were willing to suffer any indignity (even being seen driving a moped) to achieve that goal.

No self-respecting taxi driver I knew would ever lower himself to use a GPS. Here's a word of warning to every GPS-dependent cabbie out there. First, they put a machine in the car that tells you where to go - next they'll put a machine in the car that drives the car.

Public Outraged As Bus Driver Seen Doing What Everyone Else Does!

The newspapers were in an uproar once again over an outrageous story. Egyptian riots? Tory malfeasance? Even worse: a Toronto bus driver was caught texting while driving. An irate passenger had snapped a photo and sent it to a local media outlet. No one was more dismayed than me.

Since when did we become a nation of snitches?

It's absolutely wrong for a bus driver to text and drive but that doesn't mean we should take his photo and hold him up to public ridicule. Speak to the driver or file a complaint if you like but leave it at that.

It reminds me of the photo that was taken of the TTC booth attendant who was caught sleeping. At the time, I remember thinking, "He must be really tired." Turns out that guy, who passed away last November, was an exemplary employee who had once saved a passenger's life. It didn't matter. Someone took his picture and now he was ripe for the kicking. It was disgusting.

That's what happens to working people. They work and they get tired. Sometimes they even dose off. We've all done it.

It may not surprise you but I'm sleeping right now! You could create a 24-hour news channel from footage of me not doing my job. The only reason the front pages don't carry pictures of CEOs and powerful people sleeping in their offices is that the average camera-toting twit can't get past their secretaries.

So, next time you see a bus driver stop to buy a coffee, or pick his nose, don't reach for your camera. Think of all the other times he's stopped the bus so you could catch it. Think of the times he may have helped a passenger in distress. And if that doesn't soften your heart a bit, shove your camera where the sun don't shine, and take a picture of your soul.

*****

The F-150 Face-off

Ferrari last week unveiled the new F150, the car it hopes will capture Formula One glory. Meanwhile, Ford continues to produce the F-150, the world's ultimate pickup. Here's how they stack up head-to-head.



Ferrari F150

Ford F-150

Has Moveable Rear Wing

Things might fly off it

Has a KERS system

Driver might have COORS in his system

Named to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification

Named to celebrate the ability to count to 150

The legendary F-duct is gone

The legendary F-bomb likely to get dropped

Driver can no longer change the aerodynamic setup

Driver can still lower windows to change the aerodynamic setup

Can carry the broken dreams of an entire nation

Can carry 1,388 kg payload

Bruce Springsteen unlikely to be seen driving one

Yeah, I can see the Boss in an F-150

Music most likely to be on CD player: Justin Bieber: "Never Say Never"

Music most likely to be on CD player: Trooper: "We're Here For a Good Time'

No "-" in name

Has a "-" in name

globedrive@globeandmail.com

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