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Man Takes Google Maps Shortcut, Finds Out the Ugly Truth About Navigation Apps

The man got stuck at 12 AM 15 photos
Photo: Wasatch County Search & Rescue
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It's hard to find someone not using navigation apps to go from where they are to where they want to be, especially if the final destination is an address they're not familiar with.
Unfortunately, more and more drivers make the same mistake and blindly trust these navigation apps, sometimes even following routes that don't look safe.

This is what happened recently to a driver in Utah. The 23-year-old man followed a route suggested by Google Maps between Springville and Vernal without double-checking whether the road was dangerous.

While it's never a good idea to use an unpaved road in the middle of the night and without proper equipment, the young driver followed Google's suggestion and drove his Toyota on the west side of Strawberry peak. You can already imagine what happened, as it didn't take long before the driver realized that his adventure ended abruptly.

The vehicle got stuck at midnight, as the unpaved route was rough and unsuitable for cars. Fortunately, the driver still had a cellular signal, so he dialed 911 and called the emergency teams to save him. He wasn't injured, but the local rescue teams claim the man required transport off the mountain. The operation took three hours.

Google reportedly said they couldn't identify a route on Google Maps that would lead a driver to the location where the 23-year-old man got stuck, but the company continues the investigation and says it'll update its application to offer safer routing.

This wouldn't be the first time when Google Maps sends drivers on a dangerous route. Earlier this year, a dozen drivers followed a route suggested by the application on an unpaved desert trail, leaving the interstate to avoid a closure reported ahead. Using the unpaved road proved a bad idea, as they ended up stuck in the desert and forced to return to the interstate after hours of driving in the middle of nowhere.

Google acknowledged the problem with Google Maps' routing engine and removed the unpaved road from the map.

However, this case is another sign that drivers should always use common sense when running navigation software in their cars. These applications don't know what happens on the road in real time and can't warn of dangerous conditions. In 2020, Google Maps sent two young Russians to a closed road covered in snow without knowing that the route was dangerous and should have been avoided. The driver eventually froze to death after the vehicle broke down and got stuck in the snow.

Users are recommended to check their routes before driving – Google Maps includes a route preview screen that allows them to explore every turn before they begin navigation. If required, users should also download offline maps to make sure navigation remains available in regions with no cellular reception.
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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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