Apple Maps’ bad directions called out as public safety issue in Australia

It was bad enough for Apple(s AAPL) when its new Maps app’s awfulness was inspiring parody Twitter and Tumblr accounts. But now the app is forcing public safety officials in Australia to issue warnings about it. On Monday, police in Victoria, Australia took the step of issuing a bulletin and asking travelers to the area to use a different mapping software. Turns out, those using Apple Maps are often led astray in a badly mis-mapped national park, and police had to keep rescuing lost, stranded tourists.

From the police report:

Local Police have been called to assist distressed motorists who have become stranded within the Murray-Sunset National Park after following directions on their Apple i-phone.

Tests on the mapping system by police confirm the mapping systems lists Mildura in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park, approximately 70km away from the actual location of Mildura.

Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the Park and temperatures can reach as high as 46 degrees, making this a potentially life threatening issue.

Some of the motorists located by police have been stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water and have walked long distances through dangerous terrain to get phone reception.

Australia natpark Apple Maps
Bad directions and misidentified locations are usually just inconvenient or annoying; they do not usually lead to life-threatening scenarios. But in certain cases like this one, they can be, which is why Apple needs to get a fix in place as soon as possible. Apple is reportedly working to improve the bad imagery, misidentified locations and off-target directions. But this is not exactly great PR for the company and its brand new Maps product.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has admitted that Apple “screwed up” with its initial release of Maps in September, as he said last week in an interview with Bloomberg. Besides removing some former overseers of the project and assigning a new leader, Cook said, “We’re putting all of our energy into making it right. And we have already had several software updates. We’ve got a huge plan to make it even better.”

The sooner the details of this “huge plan” are revealed and implemented, the better.