Great Hang Up: Staying Safe Using a GPS

2:15 AM, Aug 1, 2012   |    comments
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Local law enforcement officers say they're worried about more than just cell phones distracting drivers. They say even a navigation system can steer you wrong when it comes to keeping your eyes on the road.

Captain Charlie Gunnels with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office says people spend too much time looking at the road on the GPS screen instead of the one in front of them.

He says, "Drive before you navigate, just please, drive before you navigate. If you're going to have to program it, pull over and program it."

Earlier this month, a GPS lead a man from Byron down what could have been a life-changing path.

Gunnels was at the scene and says, "The guy looked down to check his GPS unit and when he looked up, he had driven off the right hand side of the road. He picked an awful spot to drive off the right side of the road because he ended up in the railroad tracks 50 feet down."

The driver walked away fromthe scene on Bass road, but Gunnels says an accident like that doesn't always have a happy ending.

"He was fumbling with his GPS, and it could have been a tragic, tragic accident," says Gunnels. "This one was very close to loss of life here."

Gunnels says entering an address into a GPS can be just as dangerous as any other kind of distraction.

"It's like a cell phone. It's like texting. It's like eating. It's like a burning cigarette dropped in the lap. Any kind of distraction causes accidents," says Gunnels.

He says, if you're going to use a GPS, even the navigation system on your phone, mount it to your car somewhere just out of your line of vision so you don't have to look down to see it. He also suggests cranking up the volume and listening to the directions instead of relying on the screen.

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