By John Vibes
A Google Maps mishap last weekend resulted in nearly one hundred people driving their cars into the middle of a muddy field, where many of them became stuck. Some of them even caused damage to their cars trying to get through the rough terrain.
It all started on Sunday with an accident on Pena Boulevard in Aurora, Colorado. Hundreds of motorists traveling nearby checked Google Maps for a detour and found an alternative route that would cut their travel time in half.
Connie Monsees was one of the drivers who took the ill-fated detour that day. She was on her way to pick her husband up from Denver International Airport when she ran into the traffic jam and decided to check her phone for a quicker route.
Google Maps asked us to take the Tower exit, so I did because it was supposed to be half the time. It was 47 minutes from Tower Road to the terminal, so I went to the detour, which was supposed to take 23 [minutes],” she told Denver7.
A few minutes down the road, Monsees followed her GPS onto E. 64th Ave. But after a while, the street turned into a dirt road. This made Monsees second-guess the directions, but she decided to follow along the road because everyone else was doing it.
“My thought was, ‘Well there are all these other cars in front of me so it must be OK.’ So I just continued,” she explained.
By the time Monsees noticed that nobody in front of her had any clue what they were doing, it was already too late.
“The question is why did Google send us out there to begin with? There was no turning back once you were out there,” Monsees said.
She said that a good portion of the road was in disrepair and many people caused severe damage to their vehicles.
“I tore up the inside passenger wheel well for my tire, but it’s not that big of a deal compared to some other people who really tore their cars up and got themselves stuck out there,” Monsees said.
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Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber said that there were not many options for drivers once they got onto the dirt road.
“There are some back ways to get to and from DIA. However, they are not all perfect. Because that was all open land, there still are some dirt roads out there and not all of them are paved yet,” Luber explained.
Luber said that this is a perfect example of the dangers that can arise from becoming too dependent on smartphones. Luber explained:
You are driving. Google Maps is not driving. Google Maps is not perfect. You need to know where you are going and, if it does not look like that’s where you should be going, turn around and try again. Take a look at the Google map and it’s going to tell you where to go, but you are not a lemming and you don’t need to follow it exactly. It’s better to find your own way and take a look at the map.
There was a sign saying that the road was closed at the entrance of the dirt road, but it was knocked on its side by the time reporters arrived on the scene.
After the incident, Google issued a statement telling drivers to “use their best judgment” on the road.
“We take many factors into account when determining driving routes, including the size of the road and the directness of the route. While we always work to provide the best directions, issues can arise due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather. We encourage all drivers to follow local laws, stay attentive, and use their best judgment while driving,” the statement read, according to CNN.
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