When you drive to somewhere unfamiliar and out of the city, let’s say to a country address in order to pick up that credenza you saw on EBay the other night, you may quickly figure out one of the more basic benefits of having a Global Positioning System (GPS) system in your vehicle. Using a vehicle-based GPS system is so much better than asking a stranger for directions once you get as close as the corner store road map will get you. And it can sometimes be a practical joke on the behalf of the friendly stranger.
You just know what is going to happen when you need to ask someone for directions to the country address you are looking for, and they say to take a right turn at the second red barn, next to the big white home on the left, and that “You just can’t miss it!”. You usually end up in Nowhereseville, USA, when that little phrase is used. The good thing about using a GPS is that you only have to program your destination address into the GPS once, and even with a series of detours, you will still be given the best directions for the quickest route.
The benefits of having a GPS system in your car are driven home most directly when you have a medical problem, or an accident with no witnesses, and end up down a ditch, where no other cars can see your vehicle. If you have On-Star, or a cell or smart phone, you can call 9-1-1 and have them track your GPS to within ten foot of your vehicle. Using your cell phone’s location identification feature, the first responders to your accident may not find you as quickly due to the wider tracking area. And, where a stroke or heart attack are concerned, every second counts, making the GPS a literal life saver.
If you happen to take a drive without turning your GPS system on first and find yourself getting lost, turning on your GPS system will tell you right away where you are, and how to get to where you are going from there, using the shortest route. You can also set your route on your GPS system so that you can stop by the nearest fast-food outlet, other favorite eatery, gas station or convenience store.
When you start your GPS unit, it connects with it’s home base and makes sure that you have the most recent version of mapping software for your home base, and for frequently traveled areas. If you program your GPS unit for a drive to a new sub-division, the unit will automatically search for new updates to the area that you are in, and search in an ever increasingly wide arc for the sub-division that you are looking for. Some GPS units are connected to the mapping systems of municipal mapping offices, but the majority of GPS units will need to be updated by connecting it to a computer via a USB connection, and download what you need. Some units require you to have a user name and password for their update sites.
If you are a frequent driver, or if you drive to out of the way places rather frequently, then you should invest in a GPS unit. It can help you to avoid major traffic jams, get early jumps on detours, give you turn-by-turn directions to your destination and back, and even save your life. For a couple of hundred dollars, that seems like a really great deal!