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Google Maps users can now use the navigation app on Android Auto and their phone at the same time. Pexels

The family of a man who died after he drove his car off a collapsed bridge after following Google Maps has filed a lawsuit against the tech giant.

The man, identified as Philip Paxson, was driving home on a rainy night when he drove off an unmarked, collapsed bridge on September 30, 2022, in North Carolina.

The 47-year-old was on his way home after celebrating his daughter's birthday in Catawba County when he lost his life in the tragic incident. The bridge did not have any barricades, warning signs, or boards to alert drivers of its decrepit state. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said that vandals had destroyed the previous signs.

According to local authorities, his body was found in his car the next day "upside down and partially submerged in a creek in an area where the roadway had washed out".

The bridge had been washed away years ago in a storm. It had not been repaired because it was neither maintained by the state of North Carolina nor the city of Hickory.

Paxson's mother-in-law, Linda McPhee, wrote in a Facebook post: "He was following his GPS, which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river."

The family has claimed that it was a preventable accident, adding that "neither the destroyed bridge nor the road leading to it had any barriers or warning signs to alert drivers of the hazard".

They have filed a lawsuit against Google and a number of private property management companies. According to the Associated Press, the companies were responsible for the land where the accident occurred.

The lawsuit states that Google Maps had been directing drivers to use the collapsed bridge for a year, even after people alerted Google about the same.

Meanwhile, Google Maps has issued a statement expressing its "deepest sympathies for the Paxson family". Google spokesperson José Castaneda told news agency AP: "Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in maps, and we are reviewing this lawsuit."

In a similar incident reported from China in 2017, a man drove his white Hyundai straight into the middle of a river in Anhui after relying on his car's GPS for directions to his destination. The driver admitted to the local police that he was unfamiliar with the roads and was dependent on his GPS when it led him to the river.

The man said he was simply following the directions provided by Google Maps and did not realise that the dirt road he was driving on was leading to a body of water.

In 2016, a woman following the directions from her car's GPS during a foggy night drove straight into Ontario, Canada's Georgian Bay. However, she did not sustain any injuries in the accident. Similarly, a pilot crashed his plane after his sat-nav directed him to an airport in Scotland that didn't exist.

At the time, the investigators said the 53-year-old man took off 40 miles away in Forfar, Angus, with the intention to land at a rural strip in Alford, Aberdeenshire. However, when he got there, it was nowhere to be seen. After circling three times at a low altitude above the area he said his Garmin GPSMAP 496 device navigated him to, he lost control.

He encountered a severe downdraft, and upon diving to the ground, the light aircraft, identified as a single-engine Maule MX-7-160, hit a nearby wall and flipped over, according to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). The pilot and his passenger managed to escape without injury, however, the plane was destroyed.

According to a report by the news website Psychreg, more than 200,000 accidents are caused by GPS devices every year.