07/11/2013 03:27 pm ET Updated Jul 11, 2013

Florida Man Says GPS Led Him To Drive On Northern Virginia Bike Trail


WASHINGTON -- GPS devices can sure be helpful, sometimes.

A Florida man reportedly drove a rental car containing his wife and kids about a mile down a Northern Virginia bike trail on Wednesday. Why? Arlington police spokesman Lt. Mike Watson gave ARLnow.com the technical details about how the W&OD trail (once again) became a speedway:

According to Watson, the man claimed that a GPS navigation system on his phone directed him to use the trail. The Florida resident was issued a court summons for reckless driving and was escorted off the trail and back onto local roads, Watson told ARLnow.com.

“He must think it’s the world’s smallest two-lane highway,” a cop said on a police radio channel, according to ARLnow.com, which reports that no one was hurt during this bit of misdirection.

The last person found driving on the W&OD trail blamed alcohol, not technology, for the error. But GPS devices are often fingered when drivers find themselves taking unfortunate routes -- for example, down some stairs in the Spanish city of Teruel, 900 miles across Europe to Croatia, into the middle of a remote Swiss goat path and, worse, into the path of an oncoming train.

Hey, who's psyched about self-driving cars?

Related: Our colleague Bianca Bosker has a column out about what happens when people attending to dangerous vehicles -- like airplanes -- over-rely on technology.

We're reached out to Arlington's police department to find out where exactly the Florida driver was trying to go when he wound up on the bike trail, and will update this piece when we have more information.



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