29-year-old Harland Earls of Placer County, California, wanted to travel from Grass Valley to Truckee in his pickup truck. The problem was the navigation app (whose name was not disclosed) took him off the 60-mile (96.56 kilometers) regular route and sent him on an alternative path via the Henness Pass.
But due to heavy winter conditions, the truck eventually ended up stuck in the snow in an area with no cellular coverage; therefore, he wasn’t able to call the emergency services to rescue him.
The man spent no less than seven days in brutal winter weather before eventually being able to strap snowboards onto his feet and walk away from the car to an area where his mobile phone connected to a signal tower. He managed to call 911 and was later found by a California Highway Patrol helicopter.
Local authorities claim that while the road is normally closed, they can’t install a gate or barrier because they could end up being sued for blocking access to public lands. As per a report, they sometimes install road closure signs, but they are hard to observe during snowy weather.
Still, navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze, as well as GPS devices, are also to blame because they’re not always up-to-date with the status of the road. And officials claim saving people stuck on the road after following navigation instructions is something that happens way too often.
“We had people driving down a muddy road to cross a bridge that had been washed out 30 years earlier. We had about 10 cars stuck down there,” El Dorado County Det. Damian Frisby was quoted as saying.
“Not that I think Google Maps and Waze and these other apps are at fault, by any means, but it sure would be nice if we could push out information through them to give some kind of warning,” Sierra County Sheriff-Coroner Mike Fisher added. He explained that back in 2018, no less than 50 cars got stuck on the same road during just one day.