Police in the Australia state of Victoria have urged motorists to avoid the use of Apple Maps, warning via a press release that faulty directions on the much-criticized app caused a number of people trying to find the town of Mildura to be stranded in scorching temperatures in the Murray-Sunset National Park for up to 24 hours without food or water.
The press release stated that local police have been called to assist distressed motorists who have lost their way within the Murray-Sunset National Park after following directions on their Apple (AAPL) iPhone.
The statement from Victoria Police said tests on the mapping system by police confirmed the mapping systems lists Mildura — a town of 30,000 people — in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park, when in fact it is located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) away.
“Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the Park and temperatures can reach as high as 46 degrees [roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit], making this a potentially life threatening issue,” the statement on the force’s website read. “Anyone traveling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified,” the police concluded.
Since dumping Google Maps from iOS 6 in September, and forcing users to switch to Apple’s error-filled app, Apple has been strongly criticized for the software’s numerous errors that include inaccurate data and imagery glitches. The embarrassment prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook in late September to publicly apologize for the poor quality of the maps. Cook even suggested that customers use several competing apps, including the web version from rival Google (GOOG), until Apple could improve its own mapping service.
Needless to say, Apple’s maps have moved at this point from being an embarrassment, for which Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall and Maps manager Richard Williamson were fired, to a seriously damaging problem for the company. If similar problems were to occur in the U.S. it could open Apple to costly lawsuits.