• Apr 18, 2008
As of today, we're taking bets to see how long it will take before people realize that "GPS" does not stand for "Auto Pilot." The latest "But the GPS told me to..." story is brought to you by a charter bus driver in Seattle. Piloting a coach through the Washington Arboretum -- as the GPS instructed him -- the driver ignored, or didn't see, or didn't believe (take your pick) the flashing lights and sign warning him that his 11-foot-high bus was too tall for the looming 9-foot concrete overpass.

You can see how the story ends. The overpass ended up with some superficial damage, the coach got a removable top, and the girls softball team inside received some minor injuries. Luckily, the 60-inch sewage pipe inside the overpass wasn't ruptured. The driver was ticketed for $154. And in response to the charter company executive who remarked, "We just thought it would be a safe route because, why else would they have a selection for a bus?", a Garmin spokesman responded "Stoplights aren't in our databases, either, but you're still expected to stop for stoplights."

[Source: Seattle Pi]


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  • 55 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago

      Garmin should just pay up. If Garmin expects people to trust their equipment, they can keep track of low bridges in their database.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, Garmin ought to pay.

        Once I pay up for a nav system, I, like the bus driver, have an inalienable right to no longer look where I'm going.

        I know that very bridge. At a glance, one can tell it's low. Indeed, it's even got signs on it announcing its height. The bus driver ignored them. And ignored what he could clearly see. We don't want to encourage that kind of behavior.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Does the GPS know how tall your vehicle is? Would this driver have put in a height if you could?

        That bridge is fine for most vehicles, though it is so obviously low when you approach it that I don't see how someone in a bus would not ask themselves "can I fit?"

        This is not Garmin's fault and we should not be even entertaining putting blame on them. We should be trying to get more people to take responsibility for their own actions, not give them an easy out.
          • 6 Years Ago
          NO. these units do not know the size of your vehicle. Most GPS units are designed for automobile use. Though there are a few made especially for Trucks and large commercial vehicles, it would be nearly impossible to load all of the height and weight restricted routes into one of these units.
          I am a truck driver and use a Garmin and it is great. It does not however supersede local laws and will not shrink my truck to fit under low bridges, overpassed, wires, etc. I still have to recognize weight restricted roads and avoid them. I must look for low bridges and NOT ram them.
          My GPS is nothing more than a tool. An electronic map if you will. Only I can control my vehicle, Garmin just HELPS me find a way.
        Dan S
        • 6 Years Ago
        Garmin should just pay up. If Garmin expects people to trust their equipment, they can keep track of low bridges in their database.


        I agree!!!! Garmin needs to get their systems up to date. I use mine regularly, and last week it told me to make a right turn...problem was it was onto a one way street...IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!!!!!

        And forget about using their built-in databases to find restaurants or businesses. Mine was updated 4 months ago to the MOST UP TO DATE software, and it STILL lists businesses that have been defunct for OVER 4 YEARS.

        They just don't keep up (or even attempt to) with roads & streets.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ross, I totally disagree. This could lead to inaccuracies when there is bridgework or repaving and law suits whenever someone fails to observe the local signs, or get into the proper lane. How much lawyer fees and settlement costs are you willing to pay for in your GPS price.
        • 6 Years Ago
        GPS knows altitude, yes. Yes, it knows how tall your vehicle is by differential altitude it can tell if you're in a Porche or if you're in a Bus. If it doesn't ask you, then it should figure it out all by itself by its road behavior--how fast you're going up hills and around curves, by comparing your parking space in rest areas to known vehicles, it can look on the web itself, and it should ask if it can't figure it out on its own. If "we should be trying to get more people to take responsibility for their own actions, not give them an easy out" then who needs GPS in the first place? Your way leads to more unneceary deaths on the highway because people who could have been warned or instructed won't be because you let Garmin get off Scott free when they did a lousy job because they were lazy. Garmin should know which roads are passable, which aren't if you're vehicle is a Jeep or a bicycle, if you're on foot hiking, whatever.
        The bus driver had his Garmin GPS, a miracle of modern techology, the most up to day technology available. Surely road signs are wrong more than satellite navigation systems, right? Perhaps not, but that's not what Garmin advertises, is it?
        A GPS unit should exclude trucks from no trucks routes. Cars from bicycle trails, bicycles from foot traffic only trails and offer special helps for each category automatically. Garmin should LISTEN to it's units in the field, Garmin should LEARN the best and safest routes, the most scenic routes, the least trafficked routes, the best places to stop, etc, even the seasons and the weather, advising people driving too fast for conditions, and reporting bad drivers to the police so they can be taken off of the roads, limit machine speeds to under speed limits, signal other traffic for turns by with vehicle lights and other people's GPS, even help people learn to drive, interpret roadsigns in various systems and languages, buoys, and hiking blazes.
        Making people into smug republicans is not going to stop the carnage taking place on our nation's roads every day. It's 50 X's the Iraq war death rate every year here.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Poppycock. Garmin should just be more careful about route selections and road managers need to keep Garmin up-to-date. It's indefensible and unconscionable that Garmin would point the way clear into a devastating accident. Garmin's routes could run people off cliffs, too, and if you singular have your way, they always will. Garmin has the resources to check the way forward, they're the ones who have been over the ground before, after all. What use is GPS if we can't count on the information it provides? Garmin might get away with scheduling me into city traffic I could have avoided, but sending me the wrong way on a one-way street just won't do, and Garmin has got to take responsibility and carry proper insurance so they can do whatever they can to mitigate travel dangers and inconvenience. It is, after all, what they're in business to do. Caveat emptor just won't do here. If America is ever going to be able to advance, we have got to do this together and that means holding road information providers accountable.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wasn't this posted on here yesterday, or am I going nuts?
        • 6 Years Ago
        On Engadget I think, not here.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If that's nine feet high, then that must be the MunchkinLand police department at the scene. Go look back at the picture.
      Kelli
      • 6 Years Ago
      sorry about some misspellings. I have a bad cold and not typing properly
      • 6 Years Ago
      I flew with a guy recently in his 4-place Piper (nice airplane). He had just gotten his GPS and was trying to decipher it WHILE IN THE AIR. I didn't want to seem bossy, but being a pilot myself I noticed an inappropriate altitude reading on the altimeter. In the nicest way possible (under the circumstances) I said, "Did you intend to climb 1500 feet?" He got a bit upset (he should not have) so I added, "It would be good to look out the window occasionally. I don't know if you non-flyers get it, but if you fly in uncontrolled airspace, you need a lot of eyes to watch for traffic, we even look to the side before turning. Not looking around is a good way to be involved in a mid-air collision (no one wins).
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Luckily, the 60-inch sewage pipe inside the overpass wasn't ruptured."
      That would have made this just classic...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Electronic driving gadgets = idiot boxes for the road
      Janet Coyle
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have no sense of direction and have to listen to my GPS(I named her Sally). I don't look at the screen except at stoplights,but usually can rely on simple voice prompts. Why would any sane person expect their GPS to calculate the height of their vehicle? or be 100 % accurate? I use my brain and watch the road... the GPS is just a talking map to me. Scary,isn't it that the dufus has a license at all!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I Just Can't Resist "It'll buff out"
        • 6 Years Ago
        Hahahahahahahah It wil buff out ! A classic - best one on the whole board .. High five!
        Mike
        • 6 Years Ago
        after the buff job why not have an upholsterer stitch a new top (after all it is almost summer!)
      • 6 Years Ago
      i live a a few blocks away from the Arboretum it happends all the time....
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, hence the expensive vehicle height reading and warning system installed. Obviously not very effective at all.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If this had been the same guy who drove for the Dave Mathews band, the sewage pipe would have burst. ;)

      I also have a CDL, although I don't use it any more. When I was driving, I knew my truck could not fit in a 9-foot tunnel and I was certainly smart enough to know that "9'-0" " means 9 feet. It doesn't mean 10 or 11 feet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      hi johnathon-- found you on autoblog! Interesting post-- I like the picture!
      Lexa
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