The Evils of GPS

I just heard the story of someone who insisted that taking the interstate from Burlington to Bennington would be quicker than the traditional shot down Route 7. That is patently absurd.

There are two interstates in Vermont. Yes, two. I-91 runs north-south on the eastern border. I-89 runs from the northwestern corner down to the central eastern border, where it crosses into New Hampshire. There’s a third interstate, I-87, that follows New York’s eastern border.

No combination of these three roads is at all faster than driving directly south down Route 7. Period.

Why not cut over to New York and bomb down 87, since Bennington is a stone’s throw from the Vermont-New York border? You’re either taking one of three ferries across Lake Champlain — one of which is an hour’s crossing, the second’s way up north in Plattsburgh and the third drops you off in the middle of nowhere — or toodling down the interminable Route 22A, a road I am intimately familiar with, having gone to college in New York state.

Alternately, one could take I-89 across the state to White River Junction, transfer to I-91, go directly south, then go back across the state to Bennington.

Bennington’s no short trip from Burlington. That’s a fact. But Route 7 is so much quicker and easier. The GPS must have been thinking in terms of raw mileage and speed limits: “It’s ‘only’ five miles across the lake, then clear sailing down the interstate,” failing to account for ferry crossing times.

I get why people use GPS units and I get that they can be helpful. But they’re no substitute for someone who knows where they’re going. And this particular car of travelers had that! What sensible driver argues that their dumb — and I mean “dumb” in the technical sense — GPS unit knows better than a person who knows where they’re going?

So the poor bastards wound up taking the long way around; which one that is, I haven’t heard yet.

The story offends my sense of self-sufficiency, which is unwarranted and overweening, and I recognize that not everyone else shares.


About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.
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