Ok so I may be a bit behind the times but in my defense, a lot has happened in the past 3 years. When I left I knew a handful of people who had GSP systems and they were pretty much only handheld, most people with a BlackBerry phone needed them for work and smartphones were just gaining mass popularity. It was exciting enough during college just to use mapquest to get directions. But now things are different. It is common to have built in GPS in cars, BlackBerrys now have touch screens too and smartphones are everywhere. You can still use mapquest or ask for directions but now it is much easier to use GPS for directions or your smartphone to see how to get around traffic.
Yesterday I drove down to southern California to visit my cousin and her new baby (pictures of the G-man later). Instead of asking for directions I simply punched in their address to a GPS and let the voice guide me. This was great on the freeways of Los Angeles because I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to look at a map or worry that I missed a freeway turnoff. Maybe this isn’t amazing to any of you but for me it made all the difference. Since LA is just a mass of freeways, driving could have proved very difficult but two miles before a turn or merge, the GPS would warn me. This gave me plenty of time to navigate thought the LA traffic and I made it to and from my destination with no problems.
I had to laugh at myself as I was driving. For the first part of the trip the roads had relatively light traffic and we were traveling at pretty normal LA freeway speeds but I was a bit nervous. I turned my music down and concentrated fully on the road. Traffic and driving are still ‘new’ to me. However, just before LA the traffic slowed down to a crawl with red taillights as far as I could see. Instead of getting frustrated (the normal drivers reaction to traffic), I felt my pulse slow down a bit and relaxed. Inching down the freeway, I turned the music back up and could enjoy the drive. By the time the traffic thinned, I had calmed a bit and was ready to resume the freeway speeds that I will hopefully get use to once again.
So I guess the moral of this story is that LA freeways are a good place to test out GPS systems and how they work. And that culture shock can manifest itself in many funny ways. I should remember this a few months from now when traffic no longer seems like a nice calming break.