MOUNT VERNON — Knox County may not be directly served by an interstate highway, but Mount Vernon is nevertheless the hub on a transportation wheel that includes one U.S. highway and no fewer than seven designated state routes. According to the Ohio Trucking Association, more than 400 million tons of freight traverse the state by truck each year, and this area gets its fair share.
With four highways passing through town, two more feeding into the local traffic pattern and yet another two connector routes, the Mount Vernon area has an abundance of numbered highways for its size. It’s still a relatively easy town to navigate in the family SUV, but tractor-trailer drivers who are often unfamiliar with the area have a tendency to wander off the through highways and onto city streets. When they do, they not only violate a city ordinance, but create a nuisance for residents and businesses and sometimes snarl traffic.
“It’s a pretty common occurrence through town,” said Mount Vernon Police Capt. George Hartz. “Usually, they are paying more attention to their GPS than they are to the street.”
GPS mapping is widely accepted as an advance in technology that greatly assists road users. But there’s a tendency to implicitly trust GPS software, and that can be an issue when it comes to mapping in general and Mount Vernon in particular.
The News looked at maps and directions provided by four popular Internet providers — Google Maps, MapQuest, Rand McNally and Yahoo! Maps — and found a mixed bag of facts, errors and omissions.