Bonnie Henry: GPS directions (into nearest arroyo) helpful

2013-07-14T00:00:00Z Bonnie Henry: GPS directions (into nearest arroyo) helpfulBonnie Henry Special to The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Score one - or maybe two - for the Luddites.

A few days ago, a survey came out via Michelin North America that revealed that 63 percent of U.S. drivers reported they have been led astray at least four times by their GPS devices.

What's more, that number jumps to more than six times for drivers ages 18 to 34. So, no, it can't be a case of doddering old fools who don't know how to use these "newfangled" gizmos.

Little wonder, then, that this same survey also found that nearly 46 percent of U.S. drivers still keep maps in their cars. It also found that more men than women rely on GPS devices.

Do tell. A man would rather drive off into the ocean, as instructed by his GPS device, than ask for directions. I know. I'm married to one.

In fairness, we didn't really drive off into the ocean, although that is what the route on our GPS indicated we were about to do in the car we had rented for a trip up the Northern California coast.

This was many moons ago, when GPS was still pretty much in its infancy. Naturally, the next car we purchased had to have a GPS device, complete with a computerized female voice that could have been the sister to Hal, who kept menacing Dave in "2001, a Space Odyssey."

Yes, of course, GPS has kept us on the right track in unfamiliar places. On the other hand, it once tried to guide us from Tucson to a relative's house in Flagstaff via Albuquerque. Only when we were practically at the eastern edge of town - and with two females screeching in the backseat that we had indeed passed the turnoff to our destination - was it acknowledged that yes, maybe the GPS could be wrong.

Besides giving out wrong directions, our GPS is notorious for only favoring freeways and major highways. Thankfully, we grew to ignore it when it insisted on trips back from Phoenix that we proceed to our house in Oro Valley not by exiting I-10 at Tangerine Road, but by traveling all the way south to Ina Road, then driving east to Oracle Road before turning northward once again toward Oro Valley.

Still, we could have used this little device a couple of summers ago when my husband and I got hopelessly lost on the Apache reservation. Thankfully, a pickup truck full of young American Indian men, stopped for lunch on the side of the road, pointed us in the right direction.

I'll admit it: My own internal GPS system is nonexistent. I once got lost leaving a church parking lot. To be fair, the lot was undergoing a massive reconstruction, resulting in only one exit.

And I find certain subdivisions with their winding streets to be equally hellish. I once wandered around in just such a neighborhood for 20 minutes before finally spying an exit. Would GPS have helped me? Maybe. Then again, maybe it would have directed me straight into the nearest arroyo.

As long as I'm on this tear, I'll also mention another news item that came out a couple of weeks ago. According to USA Today and Time Magazine, consumers have been so baffled by Ford's MYFord Touch video screen systems that the motor company is being forced to revert to its old "buttons and knobs" system.

Which means drivers in the future can once again change a radio station or adjust the air conditioning without having to tap on a screen or give a series of confusing voice commands.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out the remote control on our television set. It has a total of 53 buttons - an improvement over the 64 buttons on our old remote.

So far, I know how to use 24 of those buttons. I guess I'm getting there.

Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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