The GPS directions could lead people straight into the fire.
Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the latest wildfires in California. The images we’re seeing are incomprehensible, and along with everyone else we’re hoping the worst is over. There are mandatory evacuations in place all around L.A., with many other areas just a wind gust away from becoming part of the critical danger zone. Should you be among those evacuating or on the cusp of an evacuation, the Los Angeles Police Department has a very important message: Don’t blindly follow routes suggested by navigation devices.
Specific settings for devices can obviously affect the routes presented to drivers, but systems with traffic alert and monitoring will tend to route drivers into areas with less traffic. In this instance that can be extremely dangerous, as roads the computer sees as clear of traffic could well be streets that are closed and literally on fire. Officials say roadblocks are up, so all affected streets should be closed and clearly blocked.
That doesn’t automatically mean, however, that every single access point will be covered. Common sense is your ally here – if you’re trying to navigate unfamiliar roads and your GPS is taking you towards flames and smoke, think twice before going further.
Thus far, no reports have surfaced about people following GPS directions into the fires, and we certainly hope none surface in the days to come. Sometimes drivers can get a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to following the directions issued by the nav system -- we all remember the reports years back of people actually getting lost in the desert while blindly following turn-by-turn instructions.
Stay alert to what you see outside, and please be safe.