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What does GREY road mean on Google Maps?

Google Maps uses different colors to indicate the type of road displayed on the map. Major highways are shown in green, arterial roads are shown in orange, and smaller local roads are shown in yellow. However, some roads are shown in grey – so what does it mean when a road is grey on Google Maps?

Grey Roads Indicate Unconfirmed Roads

Roads shown in grey on Google Maps indicate that the road has not yet been confirmed by Google. These grey roads exist in Google’s maps database but are considered “unconfirmed” because Google has not yet verified the exact route, name, or other details about the road.

Some key points about unconfirmed grey roads on Google Maps:

  • They represent roads that Google has discovered through satellite imagery or other Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data sources.
  • Google has not yet manually reviewed these roads to confirm their precise location, names, or other attributes.
  • Unconfirmed roads appear only at lower zoom levels on the map.
  • As you zoom in, the grey roads will typically disappear until Google has verified them.

So in essence, the grey color indicates that while Google knows there is likely a road there, it has not yet been able to gather enough information to confirm the exact details.

Why Does Google Show Unconfirmed Roads?

Google strives to provide comprehensive maps of the entire road network. However, manually verifying every single road is extremely time-consuming. So Google supplements their own mapping efforts with publicly available GIS databases provided by various government agencies and commercial vendors.

Some key reasons why Google displays unconfirmed grey roads include:

  • Allows Google to provide wider map coverage, even for remote areas they have not yet surveyed.
  • Improves the user experience by giving a more complete depiction of the likely road network.
  • Acts as a placeholder until Google can manually verify the roads.

How Do Roads Get Confirmed?

So how does a grey unconfirmed road actually get reviewed and changed to a confirmed normal colored road? There are a few key ways this happens:

  • Google Street View: As Google sends Street View cars down more roads to gather ground-level imagery, this allows them to visually confirm the existence and details of a given road.
  • User Contributions: Google Map Maker allows users to manually update roads. If consensus builds around a given edit, Google will confirm it.
  • Advancements in Satellite/AI: Improvements in satellite imagery and AI technology allow more remote roads to be detected and confirmed without human review.
  • Government/Third-Party Data: As Google obtains better GIS data from other sources, this can also help improve global road map coverage.

Differences from Private Roads and Driveways

It’s important to note that unconfirmed grey roads are different from private roads, driveways, or unpaved roads that are purposefully omitted from Google Maps. Some key differences:

  • Private roads and driveways often appear as dotted lines since Google knows they exist but chooses not to display or name them.
  • Unpaved roads also may not appear if Google determines they are not suitable for navigation.
  • Grey roads still appear faded at all zoom levels, rather than disappearing when zoomed in.

Should You Avoid Unconfirmed Roads?

For most purposes, the grey unconfirmed roads on Google Maps can still be trusted to provide navigation guidance. Here are some key points:

  • Google still believes a road exists based on various data sources – the location and connectivity of the road network should be generally accurate.
  • However, attributes like precise bends, road surface, width, intersections etc may be inaccurate until confirmed.
  • For lower risk travel, grey roads should pose no issue. However, those needing absolute certainty may still want to avoid.
  • As with any navigation, drivers should remain alert on less frequented roads.

Example of Unconfirmed Road Near Las Vegas, Nevada

Here is an example of a grey unconfirmed road from just outside Las Vegas, Nevada:

This road appears grey in the map view. Switching to satellite view, we can indeed see a road that Google has detected. However, details like the road name, exact curvature, intersections etc are not yet confirmed. This is likely a very remote road that does not see much traffic.

Without Google having verified this road yet, it displays as grey. But it still gives navigation guidance as an unconfirmed road for users in the area. Over time, reviews from Google or users may help upgrade it to a confirmed normal colored road.


In summary, grey roads on Google Maps represent roads that exist in their databases but have not yet been manually verified. They appear when zoomed out but disappear when zooming in closer. Google uses these unconfirmed roads to provide more comprehensive guidance, especially in remote areas. While caution should be exercised, unconfirmed roads can generally be trusted for navigation purposes, keeping in mind that their detailed attributes have not been reviewed.