Google issued what looked like an apology after sending some drivers using Google Maps to travel between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on dangerous desert detours, at least one of which turned out to be a route to nowhere that left people stranded.
The I-15 corridor between SoCal and Vegas is a popular corridor, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday, which is why Shelby Isler and her family took this route to watch the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday, November 18.
Everything went well, according to Isler, until they used a Google Maps detour on their way back to Los Angeles to avoid a dust storm that closed parts of Interstate 15 on Sunday, November 19.
“We thought it would be safer to avoid the dust storm,” she told KTLA’s Shelby Nelson. “So, it was a dust storm warning on that side, and then an alternate route that would save you 50 minutes.”
Skipping the high wind event in the Mojave Desert seemed like a good idea, so Isler’s brother chose the app’s alternate route, which took them to a trail in the remote Nevada desert.
“We were on actual roads, driving through the mountains for at least two hours,” Isler said.
They eventually ended up near Kingston Peak, on an unpaved dirt road, and they were not alone. It seems that hundreds of other people took the same route.
In viral Video posted by Isler on TikTokA long line of cars can be seen on this unexpected and unwelcome off-road adventure.
On the same day, Jillian and David Strahl, who were traveling in the opposite direction to attend a show in Las Vegas, said they felt miserable because they were late. As their estimated time of arrival on Google Maps continued to rise, David asked his wife to list their destination on her Google Maps.
“Her Google Maps told us to get off Cima Road and take another rural road,” David told KTLA. “I thought this was strange, because we were running Google Maps, but Google Maps told us to take a completely different route.”
They were directed to a different line of cars off Interstate 15 before realizing that staying on the familiar highway was probably the safer option.
“I figured if we’re going to be stuck in traffic, one way or another, I just want to be on the road that I know where it’s going to end up,” he added.
These dangerous detours caused traffic jams on some roads and stranded many drivers, including Isler and her family, who remained stuck on the desert road for five hours before their car was finally towed due to damage caused by the rough terrain.
“Our right rear tire blew,” Isler said.
She said the experience served as a lesson for future trips.
“If you’re taking a road trip, it’s important to have a real map in your car with you in case something happens,” she explained.
Jillian Strehl said they learned a lesson, too.
“I would say if you don’t know the area, maybe stick with what you know,” she said.
Officials with the California Highway Patrol told KTLA that these types of detours are very common in that area, with GPS apps sending people onto remote desert roads. The CHP said they advise sticking to the basic, familiar methods.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement:
“We apologize for the incident that occurred last weekend and can confirm that we will no longer route drivers traveling between Las Vegas and Barstow on those routes. Today, drivers making that trip are being routed via I-15, which has reopened.
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