For the most part, I’m happy with my Garmin DriveAssist. In cities, it is good at navigating me around traffic jams. I found that while in cities it works well, outside of the cities it can get interesting. It seems when you tell it to avoid tolls, it takes you down some really back roads. When I say really back roads, I mean unpaved and barely snow plowed roads.
When I was driving up to Wisconsin, I figured I’d be a cheapskate and avoid the $14 toll driving through Kansas. When I was in Texas, I chose to avoid tolls on the GPS. It calculated the route and sent me on my way.
Up until Wisconsin, it took me down US highways or the interstate when the toll ended. The route seemed in the middle of nowhere, but it was still a US highway.
When I got to Wisconsin, the instructions started getting dumber. The one nice thing about Wisconsin is there’s an easy way to differentiate highways. You can read more in-depth about it here. Knowing how Wisconsin highways work, I could see it was going to take me down an interesting route.
At first, it took me through Black River Falls. This wasn’t too out of the ordinary. I knew that route is probably around the same distance. Where things got weird is when it started taking me down county roads. There were a ton of turns. I eventually got to County Z when it got even worse.
I knew it was going to be a more challenging drive when it told me to turn on Hay Creek Road. This was going to be a township road. I quickly found out this road was unpaved and still had a ton of snow from the previous snow storm.
Being that I’ve driven in a blizzard or two, as well as a logging road, I figured I’d follow the GPS to see where it took me. As I drove down the road, it got slushier and slushier. It was a bit of an adventure! I could also tell I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception.
In some ways, it was cool to see the frozen cranberry bogs. Also, being in the middle of nowhere it gave me a chance to take a leak.
In other ways, I was kind of pissed I was beating up my car with the slushy snow. It also got really dirty (which the flies seemed to love).
I kept the directions for the whole time, and it did take me to my parent’s house. The route itself was calculated to get me to my destination. With that being said, Garmin, what the hell are you thinking?
I knew the area halfway decent and drove through bad winter weather, but I’m not the average driver. My question is why are you taking me down unpaved roads when there are paved roads that’ll get me to my destination? This is royally stupid.
Going down Hay Creek Road may have been an adventure for me. For others, it may have resulted in a dangerous situation. There was no cell phone reception there. I did not pass a single other person on this road. The road conditions were bad enough that an inexperienced person may have gone in the ditch. I also did see a lot of deer in the area. If something had happened, it could have turned into a dangerous situation.
I’m not sure where in the routing algorithms that it thought taking this route was a good idea, but it’s not a good idea. I know cell phone reception sucks in rural areas, so I always use a GPS. I don’t rely on my phone, but it looks like I can’t even fully rely on my GPS either.
I knew I could navigate the road as it was and would have turned around if I thought I couldn’t. I have enough common sense to avoid unnecessary risks. One unnecessary risk of traveling long distances is going away from civilization. When I ask to avoid tolls, I’m not also asking to avoid civilization. This is a major fail for the GPS, and now I’m going to second guess it when I’m traveling.
If Garmin actually reads this, here is a time lapse of the whole route I took. I punched in the directions in Texas and never modified them. It just continued the same route the entire time. It would be nice if you fixed this and kept me a little less out of the backwoods unless I truly want to be in the backwoods.
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