back to article Killer Satnavs amok in 'Utah Polyhedron' phenomenon

Here at Vulture Central we are connoisseurs of the hilarious near-death satnav blunder, which is to news as deep-fried jetwash poultry giblo-nuggets are to nutrition - disgusting, unsatisfying, the bane of society and yet snorked up in moments even by those who should know better. Today the wires bring us what may very well be …


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  1. Liam

    come on...

    In the same country in early March 2003, a South African man living in London and his [Massachusetts] girlfriend were stranded for six days by a powerful snowstorm.

    Presumably "the same country" means the USA; or possibly Britain, or even conceivably South Africa.

    yes, since the UK is well known for its snowstorms, as is south africa :)

    i love the idea of 'BAD' gps devices... letting their unsuspecting users become lemmings.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me..

    That finds Lewis Pages articles extremely difficult to digest? It took me three reads to work out what the point of it was.. by which time I no longer cared!

  3. Chris Richards

    @Is it just me..

    If you're as bored as I am you'll welcome those extra reads!

    Your job is obviously just too interesting - lucky you!

    Mine's the one with the brain left in the pocket.

  4. Darren B

    Jumping up and down

    in cars hanging over the edge? Sounds a bit risky to me.

    Window-licking Belgians sounds so much better than Windscreen-licking Belgians.

  5. Nate

    Hey, Mr. Cohen....

    "'For now, I don't want anybody to know about it,' said Daniel he described his ordeal to global news service AP."

    Methinks it's too late, Danny. If you want to hide your shame, don't provide your name and a quote to an international news organization.

  6. Andy

    Someone's been watching...

    a bit too much Dr Who, I think.

  7. Jason
    Paris Hilton

    This is actually even better than it looks

    I live in Utah and have frequented that very area in my large, high ground clearance, fuel guzzling monstrosity required for actually getting in and out of that area alive.

    The entire convoy was made up of standard, road-going vehicles including a Mercedes Wagon (Estate) and a people carrier. NOT ONLY THAT, but they kept driving down a dirt road that Sherpa Tensing would have thought twice about tackling on foot for several hours before almost running out of fuel! What class!

  8. Mr B
    Thumb Up


    That's the spirit,

    Go through the back roads on a empty tank & stare at the GPS rather than looking through the windshield.

    Compass & PAPER road maps plus a little bit of preparation always a good idea.

    Technology does not cater for the lack of wit ... they should be charged for endangering their children's life. Idiots.

  9. Simon

    @Anonymous Coward

    You need to get hold a browser plugin to automatically remove any words with more than 3 syllables or outside the vocab of an average McDonald's employee. You would benefit from a short - and undoubtedly more pleasant - read of the article; and the rest of the world wouldn't have to read your ADD-fuelled complaints.

  10. Gianni Straniero


    Usually these blunders are caused by the user typing something insufficiently unique into their Sat Nav box and mindlessly obeying its every subsequent command. It's difficult to imagine how these circumstances arose in these cases. I mean, who types "Staircase" into their TomTom? Do you not know how to get upstairs in your own home?

    Perhaps this is why Argos have recently conflated "Home Entertainment" and "Sat Nav" into one handy category on their website.

  11. RW
    Paris Hilton


    This kind of stupidity long predates GPS. An alarmingly high number of people (usually tourists from Europe and denizens of large American cities) haven't a clue about porper conduct off paved highways. (Yes, yes, I know, they don't have a clue how to conduct themselves *on* paved highways, but that's a different form of cluelessness.)

    And when I write "conduct" I don't mean "don't pick the flowers". I mean "so you come back alive and in one piece." Not picking the flowers is sometimes part of this process, admittedly.

    They don't understand that Beautiful Scenery isn't a kind of Disneyland and you must be cautious in the Great Outdoors.

    Consider the Belgian tourists: did they not take the precaution of carrying plentiful water before heading off into the dusty boonies? Did the possibility of a break down not cross their dim little Belgian Minds ™? Did the word "desert" mean nothing to them?

    And that California convoy: did they not carry good maps with them? DeLorme Mapping has sold state-by-state topographic atlases since the early 1990s; anyone hopping around in the boonies is a fool not to take the relevant one(s) along. Everyone knows that GPS systems have a rather theoretical approach to navigation under the best of circumstances and out in the wilderness, all bets are off.

    But it's not just in the US of A these things happen. We had a case here on Vancouver Island where a young couple went exploring some isolated logging roads in winter in a decrepit Volkswagen van, didn't tell anyone where they were going, didn't have maps, didn't know where they were, got stuck in the snow when they got to the requisite altitude, and finally ran out of gas because their gas gauge was broken and they hadn't filled the tank before setting out. They were only by luck rescued by a logger in a 4-wheel drive vehicle before they died of exposure.

    Sheer stupidity on the part of city slickers, you might say.

    Paris because she's a city slicker, though I bet she has the smarts not to trifle with the Great Outdoors.

  12. Simon Waddington

    No need for satnav

    You don't need GPS to be an idiot. I once got stuck cycling in Regents Park, not realising that I had entered what is known as the, "Inner Circle". When I spotted Telecom Tower, in the distance, coming round for the third time, I realised it was Blair Witch territory.


  13. Mike Crawshaw
    Thumb Up

    Re: "Is it just me.."

    Sorry, but I disagree. I find Lewis one of the more entertaining writers, and (generally) find myself at least sniggering, often LOLing (LingOL?), throughout, due to his use of language and writing style. Very evocative. Reminiscent of an early *************** (censored to prevent rabid flames from fanbois of the writer in question), in some respects.

    I may not always agree with what he says (only Sarah gets that, and that's only because I'm too scared to do otherwise!!) but I definitely enjoy reading LP articles regardless.

    PS: you think you should ever *care* about an article subtitled "Windscreen-licking Belgians barely escape GPS of Doom"??????

  14. Peyton
    Paris Hilton


    I'm inclined to agree on this one... Felt like reading amanfrommars post (alright, maybe not that bad)... if it wasn't about over-reliance on gps then I missed something... if it was, well I must've still missed something...

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, it is just you.

    I find Lewis Page's writing style very funny and a remarkably easy read. Is the AC above perhaps a septic? Someone who finds sarcasm hard to handle?

  16. Brad

    mysterious signals from outer space

    I've never thought of it like that before.

  17. StopthePropaganda

    windshield licking?

    is that another witticism like "carpet munching"? :)

    I don't get the "I don't get"s . While I may frequently disagree with Mr. Bond..err..Page, I always understand his writing.

    Must be the Chinese blogger army having problems with the King's English again.

  18. Chris
    Paris Hilton


    "A group of Belgium [sic] tourists had to lick condensation off their minivan's windshield"

    I was wondering where my favorite porn site obtained that latest video footage...............

  19. brainwrong

    So what happenned?

    How about writing an article that actually tells us what happenned?

    I gather from the comments that some stupid people got lost.

    I've been watching some of Les Hiddins' TV programmes (the bush tucker man), stuff like that has been happenning for years.

    A picture of an un-prepared idiot can be found here:

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me?

    I normally understand a great deal of what aManFromMars says - its normally quite well informed as well. Have I been smoking too much?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Sat Nav is merely the RoTM footsoldier

    designed to pick off the weak, the incompetent, and those with neither a sense of direction or an ounce of common sense. I heartily approve.

  22. david bates


    is the same - my dads GPS goes mad in Crewe and takes him round in circles (a more sensible GPS would just refuse to take you there at all).

    Both my GPSs have worked flawlessly here tho.

  23. kain preacher


    Few yews back I was watching the news were some Aussie got lost in the Tucson. THe rescuers were shocked that some from Oz would just wander off in the desert like that. No food no water. I could take you i for a 15 minute drive out side the city limits of Tucson and no would ever find you.

  24. Solomon Grundy

    Off Road and GPS SatNav

    The first thing you learn when going "outside" for long periods of time is that all the fancy gizmos aren't worth shit and can very possibly get you killed. If you're going into forests/parks/wilderness areas in the U.S. you must have maps, a compass, and the ability to use them together - otherwise you might die. These places aren't safe. You must rely on yourself if the shit hits the fan and in today's world so many people don't do that anymore. They expect "signals from outer space" or some govt official to keep them safe.

    If you asked me it might have been better if they convoy had driven off the cliff and then the park would have been closed to vehicle traffic. "Outside" is much better without cars and you get to use those leather clad things on the end of your legs for something other than depressing a pedal.

  25. Paul

    Satnav blindness?

    These people must be just staring blindly out the window as they drive, slavishly following the satnav's siren voice but not *seeing* or *thinking* (yeah, I know...expecting people to think nowadays, pffft).

    There was a story on the local radio breakfast show here a week or so ago. Some lady has supposedly had vehicles crash into her home over a dozen times in TWO YEARS! Apparently her home is in the middle of a road which used to be a through road but is now her private driveway. The GPS data still has it as a short-cut, so every once in a while a GPS-slave will come through. Sometimes they will inexplicably fail to notice the presence of an entire house in their path, with predictable results. This says a lot about people.

    If I were her, I'd invest in a big tow truck, dig a moat around the house, and charge a fortune for hauling the dumbasses out of the hole they drove into.

    I've been down one of the roads around here which GPS likes to send doomed drivers along. All the other short cuts between the major roads here wind up, over and down the mountains in a long, twisty but passable manner. This one is certainly the shortest route, because it just goes straight up one side of the mountains and down the other at a quite disturbing, one-lane, potholed and unpaved angle. Not to mention the sheer drops off either side, waiting to swallow up the unwary. I can just imagine some poor sap in an entirely unsuitable vehicle bouncing down a bumpy 1:3 gradient while thinking "but the satnav *says* this is the way to go".

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Now, how can we get the SatNav to tell the lemmings..

    Go to Voting Station

    Cast a Vote

    Oh bugger, multi choice decision/questions, not going to work (or will it!!)

  27. Peyton

    Ah, I begin to understand

    Went back and noticed the link to the original article... my confusion actually stems from how poorly written it is I think... I couldn't understand why people within cell phone range had to flag down a plane and assumed it was some embellishment to the story... apparently this actually did happen, though the plane seemingly had little to do with their rescue...

    Was also confused by the inclusion of the bit about the snowstorm, since it really has nothing to do with GPS. (I've been stranded in a snowstorm before for more than six days but it had nothing to do with sat navs - my parent's house doesn't really wander around that much for GPS to have been a factor) But again, this was part of the original report.

    The part about "country" still confuses me, since it *is* referring to the, erm, Utah Polyhedron (country as in an expanse of land, not a nation - either this is a joke I don't get or the first meaning of "country" is an Americanism...)

  28. Captain DaFt

    re: Is it just me?

    No, I always get an ironic chuckle from Amanfrommars' writing style and the wit he thinly veils with it.

    Seriously, anyone who could follow Dennis Miller's rants back when he had a sense of humor shouldn't have trouble following Amanfrommars.

  29. DGR

    We have 'em too

    Tucson, don't think that there is anything in being from Oz that precludes being naive about the natural world. Most Australians live within a rifle shot of the coast (well, maybe a cannon shot then), and have little to do with the inland. We have been losing people to heatstroke and dehydration since the days of the Model T (within hours sometimes), and no amount of expensive 4WD's, GPS, satellite beacons and publicity seems to help. In fact it seems they just allow them to get deeper into the sh*t.

  30. Fozzy

    Darwinism has evolved

    Honestly is this a new stage of darwins laws at work? It seems rather than a bigger and better predator to remove the weak from the herd, Darwin appears to be preying on the inate stupidity of some people through the use of "smarter" technology to remove them from the gene pool. I whole heartily support these lemmings efforts in doing just that.

  31. Gavin Burnett

    Signals from outer space

    The sontarans are coming!

  32. Secretgeek

    @Kain preacher

    Is that a threat?

    Time for coat obviously.

  33. Sweep


    No doubt they'd be trying to bite their own ears off too once they got a bit peckish.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've been in an accident because of a satnav before. I had been in a hurry and not taken my usual precaution of passing my route through an online mapping solution. I followed its instructions and found myself on what could charitably be described as a dirt track. "S'OK", I thought, I've driven on roads like this before, so I slowed down, turned on my lights and drove quite carefully. About 5 minutes later I encountered another vehicle (A golf) heading towards me at about 50MPH. The "road" was straight and conditions were clear, and there was a passing place in between us. I though "He has surely seen my bright red car with all its lights on and will pull into that passing place on his side of the road, as my side of the road is a hedge."

    Guess what?

    He didn't.

    The moral of the story is that I'm a retard for following my satnav down a road I wasn't comfortable on, and that blind people shouldn't be allowed to drive.

    Anonymous, to hide my shame.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Obviously common sense plays a part, but it's more likely that the problem lies with the mapping on the navigation device rather than the device itself.

    I know a simple dirt track up near my house which sits on the maps of at least a couple of popular twat-nav devices as a public road. It's only a few hundred yards long and actually starts out straight and level and even metalled. Then it takes crosses a stream takes a left and heads up a short steep hill. Maybe, just maybe, after a few days of dry weather you could make it up there in an ordinary car, if you were a good driver. And then you'd hit the ruts further up and ground your pride and joy. But occasionally we get drivers heading up there and getting stuck. Often it's deliver vans. Every one of them blames twatnav.

    It's also marked on the OS map, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has ever blamed that. The blind reliance on sat nav is truly scary. Because it's a computer it must be right.

    Reminds me of the days when I was selling "computers" to small businesses (back when the PC was new we used to sell word processor boxes that plugged into electronic typewriters with two 5 .25" floppy disk drives and a CP/M clone OS called OS/M) and the manager would usually work on the principal that they would give the computer to the dumbest person in the office because computers are clever.

    P.S. This track isn't somewhere "out in the boonies" but next to a major A road and about 5 miles from the M1 and within 8 miles of four major population centres.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    are everyone doing saying 'buy a map and compass'. That is the whole point of GPS, so you don't crash and burn whilst the map is filling your windscreen while you are traversing the side of mountains. If the GPS doesn't work complain to the US military (I suggest taking a big gun with you to make your point).

  37. Tsu Dho Nimh
    Dead Vulture

    Using a hiking map?

    It sounds like the idiot with the GPS was trying to travel "as the crow flies" between where they were and where they wanted to be. There's a maze of dirt roads and canyons and ridges between anywhere and anywhere else in that area.

    My family spent two weeks camping in there decades ago, armed with topo maps, compass and plenty of water. Most roadmaps of these areas only show the passable roads - although driving anywhere in the canyons in the late summer rainy season can be dangerous because of flash floods. If you take your time, take water and let people know where you are going, it's lovely country.

    If all you want is out ... take the road MOST TRAVELLED every time you have a choice.

    Mine's the one with the dead bird in the pocket - it didn't see the cliff coming either.

  38. Nano nano

    3D ?

    Why "polyhedron" - since the travellers were confined to the Earth's surface, Mr. William of Occam might suggest a simple polygon would suffice ...

    PS - a Satnav is no substitute for a MAP

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Surprisingly (NSFW)

    No comments yet on Richard D. James being so far ahead of his time? His ride sure doesn't require satnav...

    President Hilton, because her Apex Twins are well ahead too

  40. James Anderson

    Boring Alert!

    A little bit of contextual analyisis reveles "In the same country" should probably have been "in the same county".

    Is it Friday yet?

  41. Chris Hunt
    Thumb Down

    I'm with AC

    I'm a big fan of Lewis' articles, finding them both informative and entertaining. With this one, I've not got a clue what he's talking about. Something about idiots (nearly) going over a cliff because they've got more gadgets than sense.

    Could he just tell the story "in clear", before embroidering it with all the RoTM stuff?

  42. JimC

    same country

    I imagine the original meant "same" country in the sense of same area/type of terrain rather than the political entity...

  43. Harry Stottle

    Back to Basics...

    I've long argued that kids shouldn't be allowed to use calculators in school until they've demonstrated a reasonable grasp of mental arithmetic. Why? Because if you perform the calculations mentally - at least to an approximation - then you have some idea of whether what the machine is telling you is likely to be correct.

    The same obviously applies to idiots with Satnavs. They shouldn't be allowed near them until they've demonstrated at least rudimentary map reading skills so they've got a chance of spotting the fact that the machine is leading them astray...

  44. Matthew Ellen

    @Mike Crawshaw

    LOL is short for laughing out loud (or lots of love). There is no need to turn LOL into a verb if you're laughing.

  45. Mike Crawshaw
    Paris Hilton

    @ Matthew Ellen

    I thank you for your clarification - I had LOL down as "Laugh" as opposed to "Laughing". Especially as I've never come across the Lots Of Love version, which means I shall stop using it immediately! Unless I'm talking to Paris...

  46. Steve Babb

    British Isles GPS dead zone

    There's another GPS dead zone in the middle of the Irish Sea. We call it, the Isle of Man (ironic really given that it's usually men who fail to read the map properly then blame getting lost on the female in the passenger seat).

    Still, to keep the themselves amused, we locals have developed a sport out of watching lost tourists go aimlessly round and round wondering why their satnav systems are telling them incessently to "Take the next turning right".

    In fact, we offer special ferry prices to turn up each June and race against other lost tourists. There's a Tourist Trophy awarded each year for the quickest.

    Mine's the one with three legs

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