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I remember watching an episode of the American version of The Office once, when Michael Scott drove his company car into a lake because his sat-nav told him there was a road there. Hilarious, but not based in any kind of reality. Nobody except a character from a TV show would do something quite so stupid....
But wait! I may have spoken too soon.
In January of this year, Lauren Rosenburg was using Google Maps' walking directions to get across Park City, Utah. Google Maps suggested a route that took her down a highway with no pavements or pedestrian routes (a motorway in other words) and guess what? She was hit by a car.
OK, so she's stupid, but her next actions prove exactly why we have to have idiot warnings on all modern day products: she's suing Google. According to her prosecution team, Google Maps took her on a unsafe route as a direct result of which she was struck by a car and she's now suing the search engine for $100,000 (her medical expenses), plus punitive damages. She's also suing the driver of the car that hit her.
I'm sorry but how was it the driver's fault that this moron was walking along a motorway?
It's not Google's fault either Most people in the same circumstances would realise 'hang on, that's a motorway' and find an alternate route. Google do even offer a warning on their Google Maps service - view it on a computer and you get the words 'Walking Directions are in beta, Use caution, this route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths'. The trouble in this case is that Ms. Rosenberg was viewing the directions on her Blackberry, where the warning isn't displayed - so maybe she should sue them too?
Hopefully, the judge will tell Lauren Rosenburg she's an idiot and that she should perhaps not use any sort of technology whatsoever for her own safety. Don't want her getting electrocuted putting her hand through her computer monitor, then having to explain to her that you can't give your friends on webcam a hug.
I'm actually mildy impressed she managed to turn on her Blackberry and get directions to anywhere at all, given she must have spent the first ten or so minutes shouting 'ON' at the thing. And what would have happened if her route had included a lake or river? Would she have tried to swim?
I'll be keeping my ears peeled for the result of the lawsuit against Google. It won't make any difference to them, but I hope they win out of principle. If they lose, I have a cunning money spinning plan. I'll just have to get myself some directions from Fresh Egg to Brighton and sue Google when I nearly drown trying to make it here in a child's inflatable dingy.