GPS and Cell Phones? What are the Ethical Dilemmas?

Updated October 6, 2023

Technological advancement – especially in the motor and electronic industries, has made our lives very easy.  Today, you can start your car and drive to almost anywhere you want – even somewhere you have never been to before, without having to worry about getting lost as long as you have your GPS enabled smartphone.  Most cars today too come with GPS gadgets and a lot of other complementary gadgets including a voice controlled navigation system.  The increasing dependence on GPS systems in phones has raised ethical dilemmas as the use of phones while driving and the effects that the over dependence on these gadgets has on people and the society.

Cell phone use laws

The law in every country disallows the use of a phone while operating a motor vehicle.  This is because the distractions it creates poses a real danger to the driver and other road users.  Cell phone use laws have been developed over the years as the government moved to take action to counter the rising cases of accidents that result from texting or talking on phone while driving.  These laws have played a crucial role in minimizing cell phone-related accidents and have managed to mark the use of cell phones while driving as unethical and plainly dangerous.

Cell phone manners

The most popular mobile phone maps world over, Google maps, comes with a warning that the user must never use the application while driving.  The warning, which is displayed on the device screen while a user installs the application, aims at warning users of the dangers involved in paying attention to a mobile device while operating a vehicle rather than the use of the maps.  There are the generally accepted phone manners such as not fiddling with a phone while having a conversation because it is wrong.  According to the Institute for Global Ethics, the informal Cell Phone Code of Ethics collected from the general public and filtered to include those regarded as most important rank various most unethical practices of cell phone use as impolite or dangerous.  These include keeping cell phone conversations long, discussing private topics in public and thirdly the use of cell phones while driving.  Although talking on phone is more common than actual use of GPS, the later ranked more dangerous than holding a phone to the ear.

In-car GPS systems

Many cars today come with inbuilt GPS navigation systems.  These systems comprise of large screens placed on the dashboard and may or may not have voice operation and voice commands capabilities.  GPS systems with voice commands capabilities are regarded safer and more convenient to use while driving compared to those with on-screen instructions only.

Ethical and social issues

As much as it is not so easy to get lost today with GPS systems in cars and in smartphones, there are ethical and social issues involved in the reliance of these gadgets.  For one, people do not need to ask for directions from humans unless they really have to because it is easier and more convenient to just search on the phone or as a GPS system.  Because of this, people’s ‘people skills’ deteriorate over time resulting in poor social adaptability.

Are electronic gadgets that reliable?

Another major issue on the use of GPS systems and cell phones is that they tend to break down or fail once in a while.  People have been stuck or lost before because of outdated base maps, many have been stranded because of gadget failure and car power failure which means GPS navigation systems also went off and cell phones have let their users down every once in a while.

There are ethical dilemmas that arise with advancement in technology, a good example being the emergence of GPS systems and cell phones.  These gadgets in many ways make our lives simpler, but there are a number of issues that need to be addressed as they get widely adopted in people’s daily lives.

Author Bio:Taylor Ritchie is a freelance writer and tech geek. He writes for and loves writing on popular tech blogs like TechMaish

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