When a crash disrupted traffic flow on a major thoroughfare to an airport on Sunday, dozens of drivers hopped onto Google Maps to try and find a way around the jam. Google Maps found a detour and led the drivers onto a dirt road. While some drivers became concerned, they followed the crowd, only to end up trapped.
The crash happened on Pena Boulevard, a roadway that many use to reach Denver International Airport. After the accident slowed traffic, many drivers opened up Google Maps to try and find an alternate route.
Google Maps steered the drivers off of Pena Boulevard, eventually leading them onto a dirt road.
“Google Maps asked us to take the Tower exit, so I did because it was supposed to be half the time,” said Connie Monsees, who was heading to the airport to pick up her husband. “It was 47 minutes from Tower Road to the terminal, so I went to the detour, which was supposed to take 23 [minutes].”
Monsees said she trusted the GPS, so she followed the detour. Even as she hit a dirt road, Monsees followed the crowd.
“My thought was, ‘Well there are all these other cars in front of me so it must be OK.’ So, I just continued,” she stated.
While it was sunny at the time, earlier in the weekend, the area had some rain. The dirt road became slick and muddy, causing cars to slide around.
“That’s when I thought, ‘Oh this was a bad decision,’” said Monsees.
Approximately 100 cars were attempting to drive down the muddy road, but they became trapped when some of the cars got stuck in the mud.
Monsees stated that making a U-turn wasn’t an option as she would have had to drive into a field, and the road was only wide enough for drivers to proceed single file.
“The question is why did Google send us out there to begin with? There was no turning back once you were out there,” said Monsees.
Along with the mud, vehicles had to contend with two spots where the road had ditches, making it hard for some cars to cross.
Monsees, thanks to her vehicle’s all-wheel drive, was able to make it through, and two people who were trying to reach the airport even asked her for a ride.
“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.
Some of the cars that tried to pass by driving in the field didn’t spot the ditches, barreling into them and damaging their vehicles.
Jayson Luber, a traffic anchor with Denver7, said in a report that it is important not to be too dependent on GPS.
“You are driving. Google Maps is not driving,” said Luber, according to a report by Denver7. “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.”
“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 continued. “It’s better to find your own way and take a look at the map.”