Google Maps Blamed for Highway Accidents, All Because of a Missing Feature

Google Maps is a great tool for navigation, but on the other hand, due to its shortcomings, it could easily turn a typical drive into a nightmare.
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And according to Kansas authorities, this is what’s happening on the K-7 highway north of Girard where large trucks and 18-wheelers are often involved in accidents due to Google Maps sending them on a narrow section of the road.

The lack of a shoulder is obviously one of the main reasons for more than a dozen accidents that happened in 2020 alone, officials say, but on the other hand, Google Maps should be updated with accurate information that would prevent large vehicles from entering roads they wouldn’t fit.

Wayne Gudmonson, Kansas Department of Transportation District 4 engineer, explained that local authorities are already looking into several options to deal with the narrow section, including even reconstructing the road entirely.

The costs of such a project would be more than $40 million, so the Kansas authorities are also exploring other approaches like building a shoulder on the 11-mile section. In both cases, however, awarding a contract would just take too long.

So what the authorities are trying to do now is reach out to the developers of navigation apps, including Google, to make sure large vehicles are no longer sent on the road. But working with the Mountain View-based search giant on this seems to be quite a struggle, Gudmonson explained.

Our traffic engineering department has been trying to get in touch — and that is a real challenge at some of those huge companies like that — trying to get in touch with somebody to get that data in that database of theirs changed, because the road is not that wide,” he was quoted as saying by The Morning Sun.

And trying to find the right person to get that changed, I don’t know where to go to find that, and neither does traffic engineering, because they have been working on it pretty much tirelessly.

While authorities say that just getting the road “off the GPS” is one way to go, a dedicated truck mode that would help avoid narrow sections is seen by many as a better choice. Users have been requesting Google to add a truck mode to Google Maps for more than a year, but the search giant has remained tight-lipped on this proposal.

Instead, the company defends Google Maps explaining the app can’t be blamed for sending trucks on a narrow road, simply because there’s no dedicated support for large vehicles.

We’ve designed Google Maps for drivers of standard-sized vehicles, and don’t currently include routing tailored to drivers of oversized vehicles,” a Google spokesperson told the cited source. “We encourage these drivers to use navigation tools designed specifically for their vehicle type.”

Authorities claim that no less than 14 accidents involving trucks happened this year on the narrow K-7 section between Girard and US 69.

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