A Utah woman used Google Maps’ walking directions on her Blackberry and was given directions to walk onto a highway. She got hit and is now suing Google for damages.
You know those warning labels on those chemical packets that come in new shoes that say ‘do not eat’? Have you ever wondered why they have to print something so stupidly obvious?
Enter Lauren Rosenberg of Park City, Utah. She used Google Maps on her Blackberry to get walking directions from one part of town to another. Part of those directions included walking on a road without sidewalks called Deer Valley Drive, aka Utah State Route 224.
According to court documents, instead of finding a different route or walking safely away from traffic, she walked into the street and was (surprise!) struck by a car. Now she’s suing Google for in excess of $100,000.
This reminds me of something my parents used to tell me when I was younger and blamed someone else for my mistakes. In this instance, they’d say “If Google told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?”
Except I was a kid. And if I was told to walk onto a highway, I would have passed.
As Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land points out, if you do a walking directions search from a desktop or laptop, you get one of those “Don’t eat this packet of chemical stones” warnings:
Microsoft’s Bing has a similar warning when mapping the same path:
The problem is that you only get 320×480 pixels on a Blackberry screen (if you are lucky) and if Google needed to put warnings on its Maps pages, there’d hardly be any room for a map.
Instead, Google has to rely on people using common sense and lessons they learned in kindergarten – at least until their maps become ‘fool proof’.