An Italian town village has 'banned' the use of Google Maps after “too many” people have gotten lost while trying to follow the app’s directions. Salvatore Corrias, the mayor of Baunei, told the Ansa news agency that too many cars have gotten stuck on treacherous roads as a result of directions from Google Maps, which he believes “are often misleading.”
Baunei, located on the island of Sardinia, is well-known for its rocky landscapes and narrow roads. Recently, a couple that was traveling through the town had to be rescued by emergency services after their Porsche got stuck on a rugged mountain road.
Rescue efforts are incredibly expensive for the small town, which has carried out 144 rescue missions in the last two years. In an effort to dissuade visitors from relying on Google Maps for directions, the town has begun placing signs along roads that read, "Do not follow the directions of Google Maps.”
The town has also asked Google to intervene and stop giving misleading directions, however, Corrias told Ansa that they had replied but they’ve yet to provide an answer. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Google told Travel + Leisure that they’re hoping to resolve the issue.
"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. 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," the spokesperson said.
“What happens is that people aren’t used to the dirt roads in the area and so rely on Google Maps,” Corrias told The Guardian. “But after a while, they realise that they are not on a proper road, and so we have to go and rescue them. We have had so many instances, especially in recent years – unfortunately, Google Maps does not take people to the places they want to go.”
Corrias has intensified a social media campaign about the issue and is providing paper maps to visitors. Although the mayor realizes that he can’t realistically ban people from using Google Maps, he has issued a stern warning: “Do not use Google Maps as you’ll end up in an obscure place.” He has also asked visitors to check directions before planning a drive or hike in the area.
This isn't the first time Google Maps has gotten it wrong. In 2017, a small town in Norway saw an astonishing increase in tourism after a Google Maps error directed visitors to the wrong place, meanwhile, a formerly sleepy rural cul-de-sac in New South Wales, Australia has become a tourist hotspot.
Google Maps, launched in 2005, provides satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets, real-time traffic conditions, and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle and air, or public transportation. Though useful, the app is not foolproof since much of the mapping is done from the air, rather than the ground.