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Google Maps and Waze Led Me Astray During the I-95 Snow Storm

Google Maps and Waze Led Me Astray During the I-95 Snow Storm
Written by publishing team

Traffic is backed up on Virginia Highway 1 after it is diverted from I-95 near Fredericksburg, Virginia on January 4, 2022.

Traffic is backed up on Virginia Highway 1 after it is diverted from I-95 near Fredericksburg, Virginia on January 4, 2022.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

We and Senator Tim Kaine have one thing in common: We were very unwise to drive through Virginia on Monday, when the combination of winter storms And the traditional regional practice of doing nothing about them kept us both out for more than 20 hours.

It threw a storm on Monday on a foot of snow over parts of eastern Virginia, with a large accumulation extending as far as Maryland. This was not good, because as anyone who has lived along this stretch knows, the area’s reaction to dangerous winter weather usually falls into two simultaneous opposites: panic and recklessness. The reason for the panic is that the area is usually unprepared for snow, so much so that a few inches of snow in the capital is able to bring the US government to Stalemate. Recklessness comes when drivers unaccustomed to winter conditions inevitably take off regardless and behave like black ice is a speed booster.

That’s all under normal circumstances. But an astonishing disaster began to unfold on Monday because the state’s Department of Transportation, as widely reported, failed to take basic steps such as road salt treatment, Snow removal crews are completely submerged. On I-95, one of the nation The most important monuments To a car-ownership nightmare cult, that means thousands of drivers were stranded in parked traffic starting Monday morning. Some spent more than 24 hours trapped there, running dangerously on food, drink and gas as temperatures plummet into their teens. Keane told the media that his commute to Washington took about 27 hours. Fortunately, no one died.

Most of the blame was right Forwarded to VDOT, but I have another grudge to clear my chest: I blame Google for the 20-hour flight plus hell that included a 10-hour stint on I-95. specially, Google Maps and Waze.

The trip began harmlessly enough: At about 11:30 a.m. on a Monday, my partner and I left a Virginia Beach hotel for the capital. It was windy, and we had heard reports of problems on the roads further north, but Google Maps gave us a not too bad estimate for the 209-mile trip in advance. According to my partner, he did note, however, the potential for delays of six to seven hours when placed on the go. It also snows haWe just stopped, made a bad bet that the situation could improve and take off.

(Disclosure: I can’t drive because I let my license expire. So I mostly worked as a witness and a navigation assistant as we slowly and slowly made our way to ruthless doom on I-95.)

Passing through Richmond, we took an alternate route that Google Maps suggested might help us get through the worst of the expected delays on I-95—although he was still adamant about getting there at the end. We stopped at Chili’s and downloaded Waze, Google’s other navigation app. We considered taking an alternate route to Route 301, but Google Maps and Waze agreed on one thing: I-95 would definitely be faster, despite confusing delay estimates. Looking back, this would have been a good time to check the news and find out that the status of the proposed route from Google had already become national news, or that state officials were warning people to stay away from the matter. Instead, we relied on estimated delays for applications, which fluctuated significantly.

We got to Falmouth near Fredericksburg shortly before dark – by which time hundreds of people were stuck on the stretch of I-95 on our way for most of the day. Waze, obviously under the impression that he was smarter than he really was, tried to surround us with the blockage by taking some side roads (the maps suggested similar ones). The only problem was that these side roads were uncultivated, covered in snow and ice, and soon overwhelmed by hundreds of other drivers who came up with the same idea on their GPS. That’s when we got cornered for the first time: We neglected to go down a particularly noisy road suggested by Waze, but as we tried to pass a car on another uncultivated street, our right-hand tires got stuck in a block of snow. A good Samaritan living nearby came with shovels, but the road was full of other cars that got stuck, including a truck we had to help excavate first. By the time we finally got out of there, over two hours had passed.

Shortly before we left, the Good Samaritan mentioned that apps must be to blame for the situation unfolding in his driveway, because it was quiet all day until a torrent of cars suddenly arrived.

Waze had us move north on Route 1 for a while, but was again advised to get I-95. This was a disastrous lapse in judgment, though perhaps inevitable at this point, as Waze successfully led us into a trap with no other way out. Most importantly, the estimated delay time fluctuated to a few hours. This was just nonsense. After getting to I-95 sometime around 7:00 p.m., we were greeted on I-95 by gleams of black ice and cornered cars stretching forward as far as we could see. Waze took the opportunity to start giving us more honest delay estimates, like three and a half hours to get to a hotel less than 10 miles north.

When you’re stuck idle on black ice for hours, run the engine periodically to get the front seats above freezing before turning them off again to save gas, some strange ideas may come to your mind. Completely illogical conspiratorial thoughts like, “Hey, maybe it got me stuck here, updating Waze endlessly and searching for hotels on Google Maps, Google wanted all the time. “ It was at least a mental dialogue change from earlier questions like, “Have Virginia ever heard of the damn salt” or “Are state soldiers arresting me for urinating on the side of the road?”

With the hindsight of The Washington Post timeline Than the I-95 fiasco, some things make more sense. The inconsistent estimates made by Waze and Google Maps likely have something to do with the VDOT’s slow schedule on acknowledging how bad the situation is; He did not admit a “complete obstruction” to traffic until midnight, after drivers were trapped for hours. For some reason avoiding all logic, I-95 has not officially closed Until three hours later. Presumably, Google Maps and Waze have continued to recommend I-95 as a workable route until then.

“During unforeseen circumstances, our team works as quickly as possible to update routes using details from local authorities, feedback from drivers, and sudden changes in driving directions,” a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo via email. “Earlier this week we displayed a winter storm warning and stopped routing via I-95 once we verified its closure. We encourage everyone to stay alert and alert, especially when driving in bad weather.”

Most importantly, Google Maps and Waze are not the same old old paper maps. When using a paper map, the active actor is You are. You have to paint the way. No one blames the fine paper map for losing it. But by their very design, the navigational apps provide users with the comfortable illusion of not being clear exactly who is in charge. They will always try to chart a path for you, no matter how unwise it is to look for a path in the first place, and they will faithfully guide you along the way. rodentsSimilar, if you allow it. Outside of really extreme situations like wildfire or terrorist attacks, they would never tell you that, it’s probably best not to drive at all.

Of course, we were the ones in control. At any time, we could have cut our losses and… I stopped. Found a hotel or something. Instead, we let some algorithm keep pushing us forward and forward, ignoring the consequences until it’s too late. Apparently thousands of other people have done the same is cool comfort.

In any case, there is clearly a lesson to be learned here of sorts. If anyone knows what app I can download to find out, please let me know.


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