One of the biggest advantages of having a smartphone connected to the internet in our pockets is having an interactive, real-time navigation map.
However, an incident in Colorado is a good reminder that in an era when people are more and more attached to their phones, it’s best to not blindly or completely believe in modern technology.
Nearly 100 drivers ended up stuck in a muddy field on Sunday after trying to take a shortcut around a crash on Pena Boulevard in Denver, reported ABC News.
Connie Monsees was going to pick her husband up at the airport, but encountered a traffic jam, so she pulled out her phone and consulted Google Maps for an alternate route.
Drivers en route to the Denver Airport thought they’d cut their travel time in half. Instead, they were treated to Colorado’s finest mud. https://t.co/pGG9bMdRxx
— The Drive (@thedrive) June 27, 2019
“So I pulled out my Google Maps to see if there is a better way to go, and it told me to take the next exit and it would be about half the time,” Monsees said.
“Google Maps asked us to take the Tower exit, so I did,” she said. “It was 47 minutes from Tower Road to the terminal, so I went to the detour, which was supposed to take 23 [minutes].”
Dozens of drivers were directed down a muddy dirt road in Colorado this weekend, resulting in a backup nearly 100 cars deep. So why did Google Maps point them there in the first place? https://t.co/It5qvwA6NQ pic.twitter.com/BP7Q1Cugfo
— Start Here Podcast • ABC News (@StartHereABC) June 26, 2019
“I’m following this line of cars and my thought was, ‘Well, there’s so many other people going, it must be OK,'” Monsees told ABC. “So I went ahead … but the thing was, it wasn’t like you could choose to make a U-turn.”
She said that days of rain had created a “muddy mess of a field.” Luckily she had four-wheel drive, so she was able to get out of the mud. She also picked up two other people who were stranded, but others had to wait for much longer.
“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,” she said.
“The question is why did Google send us out there to begin with? There was no turning back once you were out there,” she said, according to The Denver Channel.
She said that she’s not upset with Google. “I don’t know that it’s so much about Google, it’s about us — that we want so badly for life to be efficient that we try to take shortcuts that aren’t really necessary.”
As a response to the muddy mess, Google stated that “unforeseen circumstances” can often cause problems for drivers.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News: “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 judgement while driving.”
— Andrew Tavani (@andrewtavani) June 26, 2019
Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber commented: “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.”
He thinks that people are more and more dependent on GPS apps and phones instead of real maps.
“You are driving. Google Maps is not driving,” Luber said. “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.”
He stressed the importance of getting to know your area.
“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,” he said. “It’s better to find your own way and take a look at the map.”