For drivers, Google Maps navigation apps are one of the greatest inventions to ever hit the auto world. We’ve all been saved by letting Google Maps find our way home. But we’ve all experienced glitches, however, none like one family in Australia. As the family traveled from Queensland to Adelaide, they got out of cell range, which led to a massive search. But what should have been a common traveling route turned into a dirt road with no end? 

car apps, navigation

The road to nowhere | Getty

This happened when Darian Aspinall and her two children, along with her mother, left their hotel on a Sunday afternoon jaunt to Adelaide. Using Google Maps, Aspinall followed the navigation app’s directions, eventually taking her onto a rugged dirt road. As they made their way down this rutted road, it became harder for her four-wheel-drive SUV to navigate. 

Finally, the SUV got stuck, with no cell service to get help. Trekking out on foot with a four- and two-year-old is not always fun on the best of days. But after hours of walking with no cell signal and no civilization in sight, they turned around and made their way back to the SUV. They decided just to wait and hope for a rescue. 

car apps, navigation

Tracks of a moon rover on the lunar surface | Getty

Local authorities began an intense search according to 9News. The first day’s search yielded nothing. Toward the end of the second day, the family had run out of food and water. But soon, some 48 hours after the initial search began, a helicopter spotted the SUV. The family was using clothing to wave at the helicopter to make sure the pilot spotted them. The police brought the tired family back to civilization. It was the police who identified Google Maps as the navigation app that directed them to the middle of nowhere. 

Should the family have followed the navigation app directions? It depends. Most of the time, the nav apps will seek a more direct or less congested route. So it may have directed them onto this dirt road as a way of getting to their destination faster. That’s a great reason to follow the app’s directions. 

car apps, navigation

The bleak Nevada desert and Noel Coward | Getty

But, if you’re going down a road that looks like it is going nowhere, and you could lose a cell signal because there’s nothing around, then maybe backtrack onto the paved highway and save yourself from the grief outlined here. Yeah, it is hindsight for sure. But taking the road less traveled is not always the secret road to a shorter ETA. 

There is another thing to do if the road you’re on looks like it might be taking you off into the vast unknown. Pull the map image out to see what’s around it. If there is no civilization seen for the next few hours of driving, make your decision whether to use it based on your gas and food supplies. And also, if you really need to shave off that extra 15 minutes.

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