Dutch navigation system poses hazards: Study

According to Dutch researchers, software application errors in satellite navigation devices are putting lives at risk in the Netherlands by sending vehicles through residential areas not intended for heavy traffic.

Hurried drivers could be turned into “kid-killers” by their navigation devices, according to the Navigation Systems Research Foundation in The Hague, Netherlands.

The foundation tested 13 GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation devices, and found only one of them, from Nav4All, avoided light-traffic residential zones in plotting a route between two nearby points.

Some of the other devices fared marginally less poorly in plotting routes between points on opposite sides of town, with some opting to take the ring-road rather than a more direct one along residential streets strewn with speed bumps and chicanes to slow traffic, and in choosing a motorway exit that avoided a residential area, the foundation said.

The problem arises because navigation software in many terminals on the market does not give sufficient importance to the “hierarchy” of roads, the differences between highways, through roads and access roads in residential neighborhoods, the foundation said.

One GPS device vendor approached with the findings blamed its device’s performance on incorrect road classification information provided by the Dutch authorities, the foundation said, adding that this cannot be so as another device, working with the same information, was able to avoid the residential areas.

There’s nothing in Dutch law obliging the navigation devices to avoid the residential zones: it’s simply a matter of good practice, the foundation said.

This is the foundation’s first published report. It states its goals as publishing comparative research on navigation systems, and increasing road safety.

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