Woman claims GPS told her to drive on Beacon Street trolley tracks

Stuck car in Brookline. Photo by MBTAStuck car in Brookline. Photo by MBTA

UPDATE: Seems to be a national epidemic.

The MBTA reports a woman who says she was only following her GPS's directions wound up stuck on Green Line trolley tracks in Brookline early Monday.

According to MBTA Transit Police, Natalie Thibeault of South Attleboro was driving in Brookline shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday when she consulted her GPS to see what she should do next:

According to Thibeault, the GPS told her to take a left turn onto Beacon Street. Thibeault stated she took the left when the GPS said to, and drove onto the inbound tracks. Thibeault stated a male who was passing by in another vehicle, told her she was fine and to continue down the tracks and get off them at the next intersection.

At that time, Thibeault continued down the tracks and when she didn't think she could make it any further she attempted to put the car in reverse. Thibeault said the tires to her vehicle spun but the car did not move and the vehicle became stuck.

Police issued Thibeault a citation for a left-turn violation and for impeded operation.



Free tagging: 


Dad was right:

nothing good happens after midnight. (Wasn't aware the MFA stayed open that late).


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Fair enough

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I think you're right. Well, at least Scion's are still a Toyota brand...so I got that going for me.


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Matrix glitch.

Missed out on sarcasm?

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We're missing the most important part:

"Thibeault stated a male who was passing by in another vehicle, told her she was fine and to continue down the tracks and get off them at the next intersection."

Either that guy wins an award for Douche of the Night, or she totally missed some traditional New England Sarcasm.


...he was "passing in another vehicle" means he was ALSO driving on the tracks.

The best thing about that

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The best thing about that linkedin page is where she lists her job as a pay phone coin collector.


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I think you can see her in this picture talking to the police officer.

Did they preform a OUI test?

now how is being a douch?

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now how is being a douch? not only you cross-ref this embarrassing incident with someone's professional profile, you also misread .... I assume that "Gifted and Talented" refers to the kids she works with ...

funny incident, no one got hurt, live and let live

Not the first

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In fact, seems to be something of a national epidemic:

Man follows GPS directions onto train tracks, into dummy hall of fame, 2008:

Upon noticing the speeding locomotive heading towards his car, the man jumped out of the vehicle and tried to warn the engineer by waving his arms frantically -- to no avail. The train slammed into the truck at 60 MPH and pushed the vehicle more than 100-feet, damaging 250-feet of track.

A few months later, same tracks, different man.

Driver claims GPS instructions put him in the path of train, 2009.

A driver, who told a 911 operator that his car ended up on the railroad tracks because he was following directions from his GPS caused significant NJ Transit delays in Morris County this morning.

Train hits car after GPS directs driver onto tracks, 2011.

A 63-year-old Oklahoma woman in town to visit her son narrowly escaped injury when her rental car became stuck on train tracks in San Diego because of bad directions she received from the vehicle's GPS system, authorities said Thursday.

Driver follows GPS, gets stuck on Caltrain tracks, 2011.

The woman was apparently following directions on a GPS device when she inadvertently turned onto the tracks at approximately 9:40 p.m., Bartholomew said. When the woman realized her error -- about 20 to 25 feet down the train right-of-way -- she attempted to turn the car around, at which point the frame of the car got stuck on the tracks.

Car slammed by freight train after pulling onto railroad, 2011.

WOONSOCKET — A freight train slammed into a car Wednesday after the driver mistakenly turned onto the River Street train tracks, thinking the rail bed was a street.

GPS leaves pizza delivery driver stranded on railroad tracks as train approaches, 2011.

GPS leads Delaware driver onto train tracks, 2011.

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Wilmington woman's car was severely damaged Thursday after her GPS told her to turn onto train tracks, police said.

GPS leads woman onto train tracks, 2011.

Deputies had to drive alongside a train and use their lights and sirens to stop it Sunday night as it bore down on a vehicle stuck on the tracks, officials said.

Motorist says GPS led her onto railroad tracks in Cary, 2011.

When police found her, Walker told the officers that her OnStar GPS directed her onto the tracks. Walker also told police that her car had stalled on the tracks and she wasn't sure whether she should abandon it, court records show.

Driver Of Car Hit By NJ Transit Train Receives Careless Driving Ticket, 2012.

"I heard someone screaming, 'Get out of the car, get out of the car now!' " said Dustin Smith, who lives next to the crossing.

"Lights were flashing. I looked out just in time to see the train hit the car," Smith said.

GPS is a convenient excuse

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This is Darwin award territory. Of course all the software warns you to use common sense when following directions.

I bet almost none of these folks were actually directed onto tracks; they were probably told to make a turn that was just after the tracks, and they turned too soon. Like this lady on Beacon Street.

it's the GPSiarchy!

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GPS units everywhere are conspiring to oppress women and keep them off the road they deserve. This leads to a pavement gap between the genders....

FIGHT THE GPSiarchy! Hey, wait a second...GPS units are programmed by men...FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY!

It's not the GPS

I've had some form of satellite navigation device that I've used on motorcycles and in cars since about 2002 or so: a Garmin GPS V, a Garmin Street Pilot 2720, and two successive Android phones that have used Google Maps. The worst that's come out of them in tens of thousands of miles has been the occasional instruction to make an illegal U-turn, or failure to be aware of a road that's become one-way or that has changed its one-way direction. (Commonly, this happens when signage gets changed and the company that supplies map data hasn't caught up yet.)

I don't think I've ever been led so egregiously astray as to drive off a ferry dock or down a set of train tracks.

GPS errors like this are easily solved by PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT.

Urban Areas the least of the Problem

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The biggest problem I had with a GPS was when my husband missed a turn in rural NH and we were rerouted on roads that appeared to be a sensible shortcut.

Excepting that the road got smaller ... and smaller ... and then I took the helm because I learned to drive back roads ...

It was a snowmobile track that got into the GPS as a road, possibly because somebody lived there during a census interval and the track got into the tiger line files ...

We somehow escaped any damage to the minivan (see "taught to drive that shit", above), but it was quite the adventure!

Moral of the story: if your GPS sends you off-pavement, turn around unless you really know where you are trying to get to. That includes such "off pavement" as rail tracks or bike paths ...

Not a GPS issue

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But a buddy of mine and I ended up on quite a ride through 4X4 switchbacks and a washed out river bed in Death Valley when trying to get to a "Ghost Town".


Road started as packed clay, but about 5 miles down the one way it turned into a 4X4 trail, and with little option to turn around we said screw it and went for it. Hit a local in a tractor coming up the canyon part, smoothing out the rock bed, and apparently Bubba forgot to close the gate we came through. Was surprised to see us as much as we were him.

Anyways, the Ghost town was so not worth it, but the views and adventure were.

That's a very dangerous thing to do in Death Valley...

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...which is mostly dark territory for cell phones. I did a similar thing on my first trip there in 2006. I followed a dirt road about a mile off the main road, which was marked on the NPS's unigrid to the ruins of a mining site (the Keane Wonder Mine, and the road became smaller and narrower and more corduroy as I approached the site (again with no opportunity to turn around). Luckily there was a circle at the site. I was pretty nervous about blowing a tire, and it was beginning to get dark as I left, not to mention, clouds coming in over the Panamint range to the west looked like they may have been carrying rain (which can be a very dangerous thing in Death Valley). At one point I was almost certain that I would be spending the night in the car (at least it wasn't too hot that evening) with the tarantulas, scorpions and rattlesnakes, but I made it out and to my hotel in Beatty, NV unscathed. The next time I visited, in 2008, the road to the site and reference to it had been removed from the unigrid.

We were

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headed for Leadfield, but it was very early in the day and good weather.

Also had 2 whole racks of water in the trunk, camping gear/supplies, and worse came to worse we could hike our way back (it was a comfy 85 deg in October). The switchback weren't too bad, but the dried out canyon was, as it was rock bed and recently disturbed. Had to get out a few times to smooth it over and remove some large rocks.

Ultimately the NPS guide didn't mention it was 4X4 only, and 1/3 the way into the trip (on a one way road) not much we could do but go forward. The lack of signage felt like home here in Boston. :)

Funny thing was the car was a rental (fully insured of course). So I'd put it in slightly stupid territory, but the views were worth it:




We actually passes two Brits on vacation in a LandRover in the canyon on the way out. They couldn't believe it. The few other people around Leadfield also mentioned being duped into exploring on that "road".

Moral of the story: next time ask a park ranger first.

Probably not as insured as you think...

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Most rental (and credit card coverage) contracts void the insurance coverage once it's driven off a paved roadway (whether or not they would know is another matter), which is probably the only thing that kept me from going to Racetrack Playa on my subsequent visits. I plan to go again over the winter with a friend who lives in LA. We'll be taking his car, so maybe next time. I've found that the views there, regardless of where you go, are spectacular.

The racetrack road was pretty

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The racetrack road was pretty well maintained from what I remember. Unless there was recent major damage any sedan could easily make it. (Whether the fillings fall out of your teeth from the washboarding is another matter.)

My own

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Insurance also had it covered, as long as I was behind the wheel.

Either way we made it out with only a few small scrapes on the undercarriage that went unnoticed. Still, they were probably surprised when I returned the car with 9,018 miles on it after an epic xCountry trip.

But hey, I made sure unlimited meant unlimited!

awesome stuff

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Thanks for sharing. Looks like your payoff in Ghost town terms was a little bit better, as Leadfield is just a mine shaft and three tin siding structures used for target practice by the locals.

That motel room looks like something out of a 80's horror movie! We set up camp and camped at the campgrounds right near Furnace Creek.

I need to get back out there an explore more, although I think the next trip might be Glacier National Park.


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My gas grille told me to light the roofdeck on fire.