In this day and age there are all sorts of rages that you can find yourself being party to — road rage, airport rage, queue rage at the store or even Christmas toy shopping rage.

But what about GPS rage? What is it, what causes it and is there anything you can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of that helpful navigation device that sits on your dashboard.

What is GPS rage?

GPS rage is a heightened sense of stress felt by drivers when aggravated by their GPS navigation device (PND), normally occurring when the device lets them know they have missed a turn or need to make a U-turn (if it is safe to do so of course).

Researchers have uncovered useful information on the topic to uncover what it is in particular that makes people want to rip a GPS device from its bracket and hurl it out the window in front of an oncoming 18-wheeler. The results were interesting but also provide some clues on how to successfully deal with GPS rage.

Why the tantrum?

So what is it about GPS devices that can push those stress levels through the roof? Apparently it’s all related to emotional mismatch.

For example, a sad driver doesn’t want to receive directions from a happy computer voice, and vice versa. Or an angry individual is only going to get more frustrated with a GPS voice that stays infuriatingly calm the whole time.

But solving this emotional mismatch is not easy and one thing that stands is the lack of advanced text to speech programs that can not only imitate human emotion but sound more natural. The technology is coming and systems are being developed that can learn to mimic a human speaker more closely, but for now it’s causing dangerous levels of irritation for some. In fact, the studies suggested those aggravated by their GPS system may be more likely to cause, or at least be involved, in an accident.

Dealing with GPS rage

You might not think you would ever be a victim of road rage but when you’re travelling in peak hour traffic and you’ve missed your turnoff and now have to circle the entire bay to get back on track, and your GPS keeps reminding you every five minutes, then you might think differently. The key is to be prepared.

Firstly, know your device. For example, Telogis Navigation devices have an easily accessible volume control where you can mute the voice prompts. Some device manufacturers, such as TomTom, offer downloadable voice packages such as Darth Vader or Homer Simpson for comedic relief. So get familiar with the volume and voice controls so you can defuse the situation quickly. Or even switch it off if you have to.

Secondly, try to keep your sense of humor about the situation. Remember it’s not human, even if it sounds a little like one, or think that it is plotting your doom, or determined to make your life hell.

So until text to speech has advanced to the point where we no longer have to deal with emotional mismatch, keep calm, keep your cool and if you have to unplug it!