Travelling with Google Maps in rainy season: How to stay safe?

Four tourists from Hyderabad were misguided to a water body on Friday night, while travelling from Munnar to Alappuzha. Representative image/iStock/oatawa

The news of an accident in Kerala's Kottayam, where a car  driven by Hyderabad tourists plunged into a canal, has once again put focus on the accuracy of the navigation apps.
A vehicle plunged into a stream at Karuppumthara in Kottayam district on Friday when the tourists from Munnar were driving to Alappuzha with the help of Google Maps. While passengers of the luxury SUV suffered no injury, a similar accident last year in Kochi led to the death of two young doctors when their vehicle plunged into a river. 

Travellers often get confused while using these apps in Kerala during the rainy season and mistake rivers or streams for waterlogged roads. Similar incidents have been reported from other parts of the country too. While navigation apps have become an inevitable part of our travel plans, it's important to understand that they are not infallible. How can you ensure that you are not misguided by them? Here are a few tips: 

1) Do some research before the trip
Before starting the journey, check the routes suggested by the navigation apps and research a bit, keeping an eye on news updates and real-time traffic reports to see whether there are any potential impediments on the way. Keep information on alternative routes handy before you start the journey. Whenever possible, keep reliable offline maps too. 
2) Update the app
Before you start the journey, make sure that your navigation app is updated and has continued access to quality internet. Make sure that automatic updates are also enabled. Voice command options can be used to minimise distractions while driving. 

3) Double-check the suggestions
During the trip, regardless of what the app says, use your common sense or inputs from local residents to adjudge whether the suggested route is safe, especially at night and in inclement weather conditions. If a route looks questionable, narrow, waterlogged or potentially dangerous, it's best to pick an alternative route. Also, stay alert for potential hazards. 
4) Share location with trusted friends
If you are driving alone, make sure you share your live location with a trusted family member or friend, so that someone is aware of your whereabouts during a journey. This can also come in handy for navigation purposes or news updates.

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