Saturday, June 7, 2008


Last weekend I attended the Glasgow, Kentucky Scottish Festival and Highland Games and had a ball. The only real challenge was the "763.48 miles" to Lucas, Kentucky from Richardson, Texas. The joke was the above quoted MapQuest mileage and their estimate of the driving time at eleven hours and forty-two minutes. Note that their driving time (if my math is correct) will reflect an average speed of 64.97 miles per hour.

I didn’t do any math at the start of the trip though wondered when I arrived back in Richardson how I/they could have erred so badly. They obviously didn’t factor in the many construction sites and what the realistic average miles per hour that a traveler would experience.

So what was the reality of the trip? It was just under 785 miles on my odometer from Richardson to Lucas and took around fourteen hours for an average speed of just under 57 miles per hour. That figure was pure drive time and doesn’t include break/meal times and gas fill ups so that I could be apples to apples with MapQuest and the other providers which follow. I did leave from work in Plano, Texas accounting for an additional 18 miles (from Richardson) and a little over 30 minutes to traverse that distance on a good day. Even factoring in that difference, something didn’t seem right. I wondered then what the other big map/direction hosts were offering up to the poor traveler.

Yahoo estimated the mileage at 757.21 miles and the time to travel 11 hrs 29 minutes for an average speed of 65.82 miles per hour.

Expedia had the mileage estimated at 760 mi and travel time at 11 hrs and 9 minutes for an average miles per hour of 69. You will note that this is just under the maximum speed limits in part of east Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Google estimated the mileage at 737 and a drive time of 11 hours and 32 minutes for an estimated average miles per hour at 64.1.

Rand McNally gauged the mileage at 735 and the drive time at twelve hours for an average speed of 61.25 mph

MSN and MapPoint (long my personal favorite) reflected the mileage from Richardson to Lucas at 752.3 and a drive time of 11 hours 5 minutes for an average miles per hour of 68.39.

As a finale I went to and their NavPro protocols where they didn’t even recognize Lucas, Kentucky. I had to enter Glasgow, KY as the nearest city where they estimated the driving time at 12 hours 53 minutes and the mileage at 754.43. I then added the 12 miles and 17 minutes from Glasgow to Lucas for a total mileage of 766.43 and a total estimated time of 13 hours, 10 minutes for an average miles per hour of 57.84. Eureka! I had found at least a closer home in the somewhat convoluted gyrations of NavPro and That I had to do a second search to conjure up Glasgow, KY to Lucas, KY seems a small inconvenience.

I found it amazing that all these products had different results and assuming that their technology platforms are nearly all the same, found that less than comforting. I do hope that our military has access to more reliable technology. In a world where conflicts and best results are gauged in inches and feet and not miles, accuracy is critical. Can you say collateral damage?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) currently in use by the US military and thanks to President Reagan in 1983 is now marketed to the general public by many companies to include Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, Lowrance, Pioneer and others. When I last volunteered with Red Cross disaster services it was on the occasion of 2007’s Hurricane Humberto which struck the Texas southeast coast communities of Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange. We would have had great difficulty getting to some of the affected areas were it not for our GPSs with TomTom seemingly the better choice.

I think that I’m going out and buying a TomTom XL in advance of my next cross country trip. I also think that with the price of gas now approaching and exceeding $4.00 a gallon that many folks are going to be deliberately driving slower or maybe not at all in the near future until supply and demand kicks in and the almighty US dollar rebounds. Methinks that our good Friends with MapQuest, Google, Yahoo, Expedia, et al are going to have to get their collective acts together unless I am the only one driving at or below the speed limit.

More on the Glasgow, KY Scottish Festival and Highland Games later.


Ned Buxton

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