Google Maps Made Me Do It
A woman is suing search engine Google, claiming its walking directions led her onto a major highway, where she was hit by a car. She's seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
While visiting Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, Lauren Rosenberg used Google Maps via her Blackberry on January 19, 2009, to get directions between 96 Daly Street, Park City, Utah, and 1710 Prospector Avenue, Park City (a route of about 2 miles). Trouble is, Google directed her to walk for a half a mile along the bucolic-sounding Deer Valley Drive – which happens to be a section of Utah State Road 224, a sidewalk-free, busy highway. One stretch is blocked by a noise barrier that pushes pedestrians closer to traffic.
Rosenberg wasn't warned about this, putting Google – which jokingly used to advise people wanting to get from the U.S. to the U.K. to "swim across the Atlantic Ocean" – at fault for the accident, the suit claims. (As PC World points out, Google is full of directions that common sense would rule out.)
From the case, first reported by SearchEngineLand: "as a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google's careless, reckless, and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Laren [sic] Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle."
Some versions of Google carry the disclaimer: "Walking directions are in beta. Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths." However, the mobile version used by Rosenberg on her Blackberry is warning-free.
The case – filed in the US District Court's Central Division in Salt Lake City – is called Rosenberg v. Harwood. Harwood is Patrick Harwood, the driver who actually hit Rosenberg. She's also suing Harwood for failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to keep proper control, and driving in excess of reasonable speed.
Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.