Google Maps "Faster" Route Sends F1 Fans to the Desert, All Cars Get Stuck

Google Maps sent the cars on a route through the desert 17 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/TikTok
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If you still need evidence that blindly trusting Google Maps is never a good idea, here's the story of several Formula 1 fans who ended up in the middle of the desert after following the faster route suggested by the app.
Shelby Easler revealed on TikTok how she was heading back to Los Angeles after the Formula 1 race in Las Vegas, only to be rerouted by Google Maps to avoid a dust storm on Interstate 15. According to Google Maps, the new route would have saved them 50 minutes, so the driver decided to follow the app's suggestion and leave the interstate.

They weren't alone, as a video on TikTok shows a long line of vehicles going the same route, likely running Google Maps, too.

The only problem with the route was the road surface. The unpaved road was going through the middle of the unexplored desert, so it wasn't necessarily a surprise that the convoy eventually came across wild donkeys.

Some cars following the route didn't feel comfortable on the off-road terrain, so the drivers got stuck. Google Maps even lost the GPS positioning, showing their location in the middle of nowhere, away from the suggested route. It was the time to call 911 because a bunch of people stuck in the desert couldn't be good news.

Easler says the 911 dispatcher told the group that the police were busy dealing with the craze on the highway, so their next option was to call for roadside assistance. They still had to wait several hours in the forest until the towing company reached the stranded vehicles. They got towed and brought back to Las Vegas, where they received the necessary repairs before going back home.

Following the suggested "faster" route didn't pay off, as they ended up spending more time in "traffic," putting their lives at risk, and eventually going back from where they started the journey in the first place.

However, while I won't defend Google Maps, I can only wonder if all drivers who followed the suggested route used the navigation app with the "unpaved roads" option disabled. Google Maps shouldn't suggest such routes unless you specifically ask it to, so if you were driving on the I-15 and the application suggested a route through the Nevada desert, chances are you weren't using the proper Google Maps configuration.

Google hasn't commented on this potential Google Maps blunder, but the video has since gone viral, showing the nightmare that blindly trusting a navigation app could produce. As general advice, if you use sat-nav and are sent on a dangerous road, you should stay on the main route, regardless of how faster the alternative is.
@justdoingshelbythings Still stuck in vegas send help ???? #vegas #stuckinthedesert #f1 #freewayclosed #offroading #trafficjam #lost #sos #wherearewe #desert #donkeys ? origineel geluid - Tik Toker
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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