GPS systems are not flawless and can steer motorists into automobile accidents when they fail. When this happens, the driver may be able to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer or a negligence claim against those responsible for programming the data the device relies upon to produce directions. As more and more vehicles are equipped with GPS as standard features, accidents caused by faulty GPS systems are a growing problem that is leading to an emerging field of law.
Turn by Turn Directions Don’t Relieve Drivers of Responsibility
While a GPS can steer a driver down a dangerous path, that doesn’t mean the driver can’t also bear liability for the accident. A driver is always responsible for paying attention to the conditions of the road and any signs that may be present. If a GPS tells an inattentive driver to drive the wrong way down a one-way street, turn where no turn is possible, cross a bridge that doesn’t exist, or take any action that is prohibited by barriers or other signs, it is the driver’s responsibility to ignore the direction of the GPS device.
When a driver makes the decision to take actions that are in clear violation of the law or would clearly place them in danger, then the GPS manufacturer or programmer is not at fault. Moreover, a driver who causes an accident while blindly following bad GPS directions can be held liable for the injuries and wrongful deaths caused by their decision to follow the directions even when it was clear that they shouldn’t.
Manufacturer and Programmer Liability
Device manufacturers and programmers are required to take reasonable care in the production and programming of the GPS device. If they fail to correct known defects or notify users of known faults, then they can be held liable for negligence. They can also be liable when “glitches” in the satellites they use to relay data to GPS devices leads to an accident. They may also be liable when jammers and other devices used by malicious entities to disrupt or corrupt the signal. This is because they have a duty of care to consumers that includes taking reasonable security measures to ensure that the systems are secure and protected from interference.