Traveler's Review: Garmin 360 - sunday 2008-07-27 0202 last modified 2008-07-27 0202
Categories: Road
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More than 95% of the time I agree with my Garmin GPS navigator. While I would generally never use it in some place like Cambridge, MA, where suggestions to drive straight through the hearts of Central Square, Harvard Square, Porter Square, and Davis Square to get to Medford are poor, poor choices, the concept that I can never really get lost is quite a game changer. I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing without it.

There are times, however, when the Garmin fails to make sense, days where it fails to acknowledge one can turn right or left on a road. I was looking for a Kroger's grocery store in Virginia that, in retrospect, merely required a right turn into a shopping complex. I got directed to drive half a mile down, then turn right onto a private road that might have lead to a local highway (I turned back without verifying) that then approached the shopping complex from the other side. Instead of one right turn at a traffic light.

Another time, I hopped off the interstate to grab a bite to eat; when I went back, I just had to take a left to cross the bridge to the ramp. It told me to drive straight and make a two mile loop around to the exact intersection I was at, only approaching along the bridge street. Instead of one left turn at a traffic light.

It's a good thing these are randomly fallible, or I'd turn off my brain while driving. Then there was the time where it wanted to drive through a pedestrian walkway to get to a post office, then it took me to an abandoned building it asserted was a post office. I skipped the post office objective for a few towns after that.

In both Minnesota and Massachusetts (and other states I've driven through), the signage says, "Slower traffic keep right." In New York, it says, "Keep right unless passing." While I understand now why I found New York drivers so annoying on the interstate - they're just weaving in and out of traffic, who do they think they are! - I wonder which perspective actually accomplishes the goal of smooth traffic flow better. The left is known as the passing lane, but sometimes there are people out there who just seem to know they're going to pass everybody.



We just picked up a 360 a month ago too--I guess it's the optimal price point for garmins these days. Overall, not bad, but it does have those quirks like you say.

As for highway behavior, my guess is that what you call the New York behavior (which I feel like I actually observe all throughout the northeast) is going to be a bit more efficient at the goal of maintaining high throughput particularly in a few cases:

1) when there are errant drivers in the left lane who drive too slow (which is probabalistically inevitable when there are a lot of cars on the road)

2) when the current throughput of that road is reaching close to capacity (or what traffic engineers call the "breakdown" throughput). I say that because the other model essentially encourages N-1 lanes worth of driving with the last lane used for special scenarios, whereas the other model encourages a full N lanes of usage.

And either way, once you approach the capacity of the link, none of it really matters, I think.

Maybe when that happens we should just destroy random cars and let their reincarnated selves attempt to rejoin the highway with a probability function that exponentially decays over time. We could call it a "collision".

Danny Park on July 30, 2008 03:18 PM

It's wonderful d...

It's wonderful driving through New York if you're of the other mindset. Then the passing lane is basically open road. Except when the max 67 drivers decide they have to pass the max 66 drivers, right now, doesn't matter if there's a caravan of max 70 drivers who all want to pass the lot of them right behind. Then it gets a little sad. Look back more than one car in your rear view and sides, please.

I was resistant to the idea (lame Yankee drivers), but I came to the same conclusion. The passing lane is almost certainly better before a certain percentage of capacity; after, it no longer matters. You get brief stretches of open road before you get muddled into the next pack.

Ryan Lee on August 02, 2008 03:29 AM

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