Oh snap! The road's closed. Never mind, Google Maps has a plan...

This is fine. 100 others have... fsck, I've hit a ditch

Updated "You are not a lemming," said a traffic anchor of not one, not two, but reportedly about 100 people who came a cropper after following Google Maps' directions onto a muddy dirt road to avoid a road snarlup on the way to Denver Airport at the weekend.

According to a witness, whose SUV had that all-important all-wheel drive, scores of Colorado drivers were stuck on 24 June in a snaking line of 100 cars who had the same bright, Google-inspired idea.

Of course, the usual dirty diggers tried to overtake those who were stuck in the mud, and in their haste to put an end to their misery ended up driving... at speed... into a deep ditch. Which "really tore their cars up", as the all-wheeler driver reported, seemingly without much relish, to local news outfit, Denver Channel 7.

"You are driving. Google Maps is not driving," continued Denver7 traffic man Jayson Luber, warming to his theme. "If it does not look like that's where you should be going, turn around and try again."

The news outfit also noted that their eye-in-the-sky was a relative of the airport-bound witness, who suffered some damage to her inside passenger wheel well.

There is clearly going to be a warm family get-together at Chez Luber this Thanksgiving.

To be fair to the muddied, bashed-car crew, Google had promised some of them a 23-minute jaunt down Wildlife Drive instead of the 47 minutes in traffic down the Federico Peña Boulevard freeway, which is about twice the length of London's North Circular, (though the speed limit hits 65mph/104kph in places while poor old Londoners on the NC trundle at a top speed of 80kph, or 50mph).

Peña, however, has the benefit of being a dual carriageway, while the dirt road Google diverted the drivers towards – at the boundary of the wild open lakes, wetlands, prairie grasslands and woodlands of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge – narrows to a single lane after the tar runs out. And trying to swing a U-ey lands you in a field, apparently.

"There was no turning back once you were out there," Luber's luckless relative told his employer, adding: "The question is why did Google send us out there to begin with?"

Indeed. ®

Updated to add at 1304 UTC 27 June

A Google spokesperson has been in touch to say: "We take many factors into account when determining driving routes, including the size of the road and the directness of the route. While we always work to provide the best directions, issues can arise due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather. We encourage all drivers to follow local laws, stay attentive, and use their best judgment while driving."

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