Which online map services take detours into account?

MapQuest and Google Maps have repeatedly failed me because their maps & directions completely neglected to take detours into account, and I end up lost as a result. With Google Maps I can print a map showing the course, but the only streets it labels are those on that course, which is utterly useless when you’re lost.

Does anyone have good experiences with an online map service that does take detours into account on a timely basis? I don’t expect it to keep up with road work, but accounting for detours is essential.

When you do driving directions on Google Maps, click on the print button (on the page, not in your browser toolbar) and each step of the driving directions can be expanded into a mini map. The mini map is more detailed around the area of that part of the direction.

This however is not helpful when you’re on a 600 mile stretch and the detour is in the middle.

I always carry an atlas just in case this happens.

On a trip to New York a few months back, there was a detour on the route…a section of interstate was closed and it involved taking a bypass. Mapquest warned me of this when I printed out the directions and mapped me around it.

I just KNEW you were in Michigan!

Seriously, I do not think that the online services do that very well. I did, however, discover that my new Garmin nuvi has a traffic thing that tells me the good stuff - like rerouting me onto other roads when traffic is backed up. I did not buy it for that feature, but I sure used it a lot this summer.

What is a “detour” other than for road construction? As far as I know, “detour” means a temporary need to route traffic around a road that is unusable. And at least wherever I’ve lived, if it was unusable, it was being fixed.

Get a GPS navigation unit. They are not that expensive anymore, and are perfect for this situation. Even if you veer off the intended course it will recalculate as you go and find another route to follow.

You’re assuming that there is some source of this data.

Heck, the maps are often a year out-of-date, and the only way they get updates is by the map companies actually driving all the roads (or getting complaints).

I have the opposite problem: Google Maps “knows” that I-66 inside DC’s beltway is HOV-only during certain hours of the day and refuses to route me onto it. Even though it has no idea how many people will be in the car. Even though I’ll probably be driving during one of the 150+ hours of the week that normal traffic is allowed. I can’t even use its drag-the-route-where-you-want-to-go feature, since it refuses to allow me to “drop” my route onto 66! How do I get it to stop “helping” me?

Google Maps has a great feature to change the route it computes. You can grab the route line at any segment and drag it to a different street and the new route with detour is calculated.

You would of course have to be aware of the detour yourself and make the route change before your trip. But other than a GPS navigation unit in the car, this is the next best thing.

There are sources of this data. For example, there are companies that will sell data which includes historical speeds of every street in the U.S. in fifteen minute increments within a typical week, as well as current speeds due to any accidents or detours.

But not all navigation systems can take advantage of these sources. Certainly, none of the online maps (Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, etc.) can, as far as I know.
Those sytems that can take advantage of this information usually charge a subscription fee for this service – the companies that have this data usually charge the navigation companies a fair amount of money for it.


Yes, I misspoke (miswritten?) What I meant to say is that I don’t expect any map site to handle short term road work that’s complete in a few days.

Well, I guess that’s that. The reason I asked is because someone told me one or more of the map sites *do *take longer-term detours into account, but I couldn’t recall which one. Based on the responses to this thread, that person was probably mistaken.

I want to thank all who replied and for your suggestions.