Google Maps Routes Cars from Las Vegas into Desert Trap

Posted on: November 30, 2023, 04:41h. 

Last updated on: December 2, 2023, 12:54h.

While driving home to L.A. from the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix earlier this month, Shelby Easler and her family saw an unusual Google Maps notification. It advised them that southwest on Interstate 15, the straightest route faced an impending dust storm.

cars trapped in path
This caravan of cars was trapped for hours on an off-roading path near the southern border between Nevada and California. (Image: Shelby Easler)

The app then advised an alternate route, a desert road from Nevada to Southern California, to avoid the dust storm and save the family 50 minutes.

Easler’s brother, who was driving their Toyota SUV, followed the directions, which led to a single-lane off-roading path behind a long caravan of cars following the same directions.

Because our navigation said we were going three miles and then making a left, we assumed that we would hit a road eventually, and because all the other cars were going straight, we assumed it was leading somewhere, which it was not,” Easler, 22, said in a TikTok video taken during her experience that has garnered 134K likes.

This is the route that Google Maps suggests users follow from Vegas to LA. Shelby Easler added the captions about the ordeal in her TikTok video. (Image: TikTok)

Because a vehicle at the front of the long caravan was already stuck, none behind it could proceed. Making matters worse, the path was too narrow for anyone to turn around.

And more vehicles just kept arriving.

No Help from Police

According to Easler, a 911 call didn’t help because the California Highway Patrol “was dealing with the freeway shutdown and accidents so that they couldn’t get to us.”

After being trapped for several hours, the drivers realized they needed to turn around one by one by one by driving through thick-barked bushes and over rocks and cacti. The move punctured dozens of tires and put most out of alignment.

Easler described their SUV as “doneso,” and said her family had to Uber back to Vegas and fly home while it was towed back to Las Vegas for some miracle work.

A Google spokesperson told the Washington Post, which also covered the story, “We apologize for what happened and can confirm that we’ll no longer route drivers traveling between Las Vegas and Los Angeles down these narrow backroads off Interstate 15 near the California-Nevada border.”

When he shared Easler’s video on X (formerly Twitter), @LasVegasLocally quipped: “If Google Maps ever sends you to the Mojave Desert, be suspicious. This is how AI will try to take us out.”