There is an over-reliance on technology, especially when it comes to navigating. I’m just as guilty as most of you when it comes to simply plugging my destination into my phone and blindly following the directions. Most of the time, it’s fine. Until it isn’t, and your navigation system directs you and almost 100 other strangers onto a muddy road where you can get stuck.
This past weekend, drivers in Aurora, Colorado, who were headed to Denver International Airport found themselves detoured by Google Maps because of a crash that was causing traffic on Peña Boulevard.
One driver, Connie Monsees, told Denver7 that Google Maps showed her a shorter detour along E. 64th Ave, so that’s where she went. Eventually, the road turned into a dirt road before the intersection with Jackson Gap Road. But she kept driving, because there were other cars on the road, so she figured it was okay.
As you can see, E. 64th Avenue does sort of go through some dirt- and field-looking terrain. But you wouldn’t know that if you were driving along it until it was too late, probably.
Unknown to both Monsees and the other drivers was that the dirt road would become a muddy, slippery mess because of the earlier rains:
In total, about 100 cars formed a line on the road and got stuck behind a couple of cars that couldn’t make it through the mud. Monsees says she couldn’t make a U-turn because she would have ended up in a field since the road is only wide enough for one car at a time.
Monsees’ car, which has all-wheel drive, made it through, and two people who were heading to the airport asked if they could catch a ride with her. She took them along with her to the airport.
“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.
There were some drivers who tried driving around the cars in a field and didn’t see the ditch and hit it hard, sending their cars flying, according to Monsees.
The road is “privately owned and maintained,” as Denver7 discovered when it reached out to the cities of Denver and Aurora, which makes it strange that Google’s app would instruct people to use it as a detour. Denver7 also tapped Google for comment, but the tech company hasn’t yet responded.
I mean, damn. If I had a huge stretch of private road and I came out one Sunday evening to find it jammed full of people who all pointed to their smartphones as culprits, I’d be pretty pissed. I’m glad that it appears nobody got hurt, but this incident will probably introduce some healthy skepticism to those people the next time their phones tell them to use an unknown detour.
Technology and applications like Google Maps are good crutches for helping you get around, but you should also travel with a good sense of your surroundings to begin with. If it looks like a giant pool of mud, maybe don’t drive through the giant pool of mud like the Google Maps person tells you to. Then you’re more likely to stay out of trouble, unlike these poor people who drove their Jeep off of a boat launch and into Lake Champlain after listening to Waze.