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Iceland Mag

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Your IPhone is not a reliable guide: GPS equipment sends travelers into unfinished tunnel

By Staff

  • Inside the tunnel Road crews first started to run into confused travelers last summer. Photo/Auðunn

  • A shortcut The tunnel will shorten the Ring Road by 16 km (10 mi). 

Is your Iphone attempting to kill you in Iceland? Construction workers who are working to complete a new tunnel on the Ring Road in North Iceland believe so, as the GPS equipment on Iphones informs users that they should take the unfinished, and very unsafe, Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel on their way east along the Ring Road from Akureyri.

UPDATE May 16: Apple finally updated the IPhone map, clearly marking the tunnel as unfinished.

Not the first online map application to mislead travelers
The error is apparently restricted to Apple Iphones. Google maps, which have been criticized for offering users incorrect or even dangerous directions, does not tell its users to drive into the unfinished tunnel.

Read more: Don't trust Google Maps blindly: Company fails to update maps despite repeated requests

The tunnel allows drivers to avoid Víkurskarð mountain pass, a short but difficult stretch of the Ring Road which frequently becomes impassable in winter. Work on the 7.2 km (4.5 mi) long tunnel began in 2013 but has faced serious setbacks as the tunneling crew has encountered both boiling hot geothermal water and a massive flow of spring water. The tunnel is scheduled to be open to traffic in the fall of 2018.

Despite clear signs at the entrances to the tunnel some travelers place all their trust in their GPS equipment. The road is not closed permanently, as road crews working on the tunnel regularly go in and out. This allows travelers to slip in as well.

Site clearly marked as off-limits to unauthorized traffic
Sunna Kristjana Zóphóníasdóttir, who is in charge of the tunnel work, told the National Broadcasting Service that the road crews do their best to keep people away, but some travelers make it through: "We don't have a physical barrier closing the tunnel, as our crews are constantly moving in and out, 24 hours, 7 days a week."

She told RÚV that she has contacted Apple several times to request that they correct the error, but so far the company has not reacted. She stresses that it is dangerous to enter the tunnel. The tunnel entrance and the road leading to the tunnel are clearly marked off limits to any unauthorized traffic. Drivers pose a danger to themselves as well as the road crews: "It's absolutely forbidden, to enter the area, and very dangerous," Sunna added.

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