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How Accurate Is GPS Tracking?

Updated March 23, 2017

GPS units are sometimes used to track high-value items, such as laptops and cars. Tracking with GPS produces highly accurate results, but atmospheric conditions can distort results.

Degree of Accuracy

GPS satellites run by the Coast Guard provide accuracy to at least 7.8 meters 95 per cent of the time, according to the Coast Guard's GPS website. Users in general will likely have better accuracy than this most of the time.

Variation

The real-world accuracy of GPS tracking depends in part on the quality of your unit. The best units have accuracy to within 3 meters 95 per cent of the time, according to GPS Basics.

Fun Fact

As of 2010, the GPS system used by the military -- called Precise Positioning System -- is more accurate than civilian GPS units. In some areas of the country, Wide Area Augmentation System satellites increase accuracy to better than 3 meters, according to Garmin.

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About the Author

Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.