Travelers often like to venture off the beaten path. But needing to be rescued as a result is a whole other story.
Leaders of the village of Baunei, on Sardinia’s eastern coast, say that’s just what’s been happening to travelers obeying the popular Google Maps app. And they’re trying to put an end to the misdirection that has prompted a reported 144 emergency calls from drivers and hikers over the past couple of years, according to CNN.
“Too many sedans and hatchbacks are getting stuck on unpassable tracks — sometimes off-road vehicles, too,” Baunei Mayor Salvatore Corrias told CNN. “All because they follow Google Maps, whose instructions are often misleading on our roads.”
So the village is urging people to use local tour guides or paper maps instead — just definitely not the technology they may be used to in their everyday lives.
The Baunei Facebook page shows roadside police signs that say in Italian and English: “Do not follow the directions suggested by Google Maps.” It also includes images of vehicles on rocky paths, including some with ropes attached for apparent towing.
According to the Daily Beast, the mayor has taken steps to get the navigation app blocked on the mountain village known for its hiking. He has also asked managers of tourist sites such as hotels, restaurants and museums to use paper maps, the publication reported.
“We’re aware of an issue in Sardinia where Google Maps is routing some drivers down roads that can be difficult to navigate due to their terrain,” a Google statement said. “We’re currently working with the local government to resolve the issue, and are investigating ways we can better alert drivers about these types of roads.”
Other destinations have had their own Google Maps mishaps in the past. Between 2015 and 2017, tourists looking for the Blue Mountains in Australia were directed to a dead-end road more than 20 miles away, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Occasionally, those visitors would knock on residents’ doors looking for a restroom. In March 2017, a woman driving to the Grand Canyon followed Google Maps’ directions down a road in Arizona and ended up stranded for days when her car ran out of gas, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Tourists in Italy blamed the navigation app in 2016 when they drove over a pedestrian bridge and along the Grand Canal in Venice, according to the Local. That same year, some tourists searching for Mount Rushmore were led by Google Maps instead to a church camp, the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal reported.
A woman who worked at the Storm Mountain Center camp about 13 miles from the national memorial, Ashley Wilsey, told the newspaper that she often had to break the news to visitors that they were in the wrong place.
“For the most part, people have been very friendly, but some people are very insistent that this is where Mount Rushmore should be,” she said.