Why The GPS Won’t Replace Classic Road Signs

With the increased use and advancement of GPS systems, it has been debated whether or not traditional signs will be necessary in the future. Even if you used a GPS to get to a store, you would need confirmation from the store’s sign to tell you you’ve reached your destination.

Imagine driving to a city you’ve never been to before. Your GPS tells you to go 5 more miles on ABC Interstate and to get off at exit 123. With exit 122 and 124 only 50 feet before and after exit 123, how could you know you are getting off on the right exit without a road sign? Your GPS tells you to exit in 500 feet, but it’s difficult to tell which exit is correct other than looking at your phone screen to make sure your little blue arrow is curving onto the blue direction line leading down to exit 123.

I think it is safe to say GPS systems are a good guide to finding places, but how many of us still rely on traditional signs to confirm what the GPS is telling us? Realistically, before the GPS, people got around just fine using Atlas maps (although the bulk of the map was inconvenient as it was crammed into the back seat) and still got around just fine with express way signs. The GPS made directions easier, but I don’t think they will completely erase the need for actual signs. After all, trusting technology to always pull through could be risky since batteries run out, the GPS needs to be updated or you forget your phone charger. If we completely bailed on signs and if technology bails on us too at some point, what then?

Image from http://www.billburmaster.com/rmsandw/illinois/misc/ryan.html