Please Don’t Blindly Follow Google Maps in to a Desert Road Nightmare

Please Don’t Blindly Follow Google Maps in to a Desert Road Nightmare

We’ve seen it happen too many times before. People blindly follow GPS directions from apps like Google Maps or Waze, only to then find themselves in sticky or dangerous situations. And now it’s happened again. SFGate reports that a group of cars got led into the California desert because Google Maps directed them to do it.

Everything started when Shelby Easler and her family were headed back to Southern California from Vegas after attending the Formula 1 Race. A major dust storm had other ideas, becoming so bad it shut down I-15 in both directions.

Amid the chaos, people started looking for another way around, and Google Maps suggested an alternate route, taking them onto an off-road trail that led deeper into the desert. Worse yet, a trail of cars had followed them off the freeway.

“We ironically thought it would be a safer option, and it did say it would be 50 minutes faster,” she told SFGATE over Instagram DMs. “It was our first time driving to/from Vegas, so we didn’t know that you can really only take the I-15 back and forth.”

“The first driver that turned around talked to us to tell us that the road gets washed out the higher into the mountain you get, and we have to turn around since the path leads nowhere. He was in a huge truck and was just driving straight through the bushes and shrubs to let people know to turn around.”

@justdoingshelbythings Still stuck in vegas send help 😭 #vegas #stuckinthedesert #f1 #freewayclosed #offroading #trafficjam #lost #sos #wherearewe #desert #donkeys ♬ origineel geluid – Tik Toker

Easler and the other cars ended up lost in the desert, unable to get a fix on exactly where they were. Eventually, they determined that “the nearest city was Sandy Valley,” over 40 miles from I-15. They called 911 for help but got nothing; CHP told them officers had their hands full with the traffic nightmare on the interstate. Easler’s group were finally able to get a tow truck out in the late afternoon, but the car was ruined from the trek. “We had to leave the car in Vegas, and it got towed to the service center of a dealership,” Easler said to SFGate. “They said the rear, right tire was coming off, and the alignment was messed up too. Low-key a pretty expensive fix.”

Remember, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t just blindly follow GPS directions. Actually look around and determine whether the route you’re on is safe or not. It can literally become a life or death situation in the blink of an eye.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Google issued an apology over the situation. The company promised that in the future, Maps wouldn’t reroute drivers onto back roads:

“We apologize for what happened last weekend, and can confirm that we’ll no longer route drivers traveling between Las Vegas and Los Angeles down these narrow backroads off Interstate 15 near the California-Nevada border.”

Image: Aleksandra Tokarz (Shutterstock)

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