Driver blames Waze directions for fatal head-on Routes 1&9 crash
ELIZABETH — An out-of-state driver has blamed the Waze app for placing him on the wrong side of Routes 1&9, leading to a fatal head-on crash Saturday.
It's the second time in a week that Waze has been blamed for sending a New Jersey driver to the wrong place.
Punkaj Shama, 30, of South Plainfield was driving a 2005 Honda Civic in the northbound lanes about 7:25 a.m. when he was hit by a 2020 Chevy Silverado pick-up driving the opposite direction, according to Elizabeth city spokeswoman Kelly Martins.
The driver of the Silverado, whose identity was not revealed and who has not been charged with a crime, told police that Waze advised him to stay left on the fork of the road at the McClellan Street bridge, which put him on the wrong side of highway.
Martins said drugs and alcohol did not seem to be a factor but police were waiting on blood test results.
The pick-up driver was ticketed for reckless driving, driving the wrong way and driving while suspended, according to Martins.
A spokeswoman for Waze said the company would not comment on an ongoing police investigation but she provided images created with the Waze map editor side by side with a Google Street View image illustrating what she called "accurate Waze directions."
Earlier this month, Waze users who tapped on an ad for the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City and needed directions were sent to the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson. Jackson police said they were called to rescue 10 vehicles from the area's fine sugar sand, which becomes extremely thick when it gets wet. Waze has since fixed the problem, according to Jackson police.
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