Can You Trust Your GPS in Wyoming?
April 8th, 2013
Reported By: Keith Kocinski
Can you trust your GPS? In Fremont County Sheriff‘s deputies had two incidents over the last month where drivers using GPS were stranded.
A group of college students became stranded mid-March in snow on a seasonal road on Blondie Pass. The same happened last week to a truck driver on a narrowing dirt road.
GPS navigation is another one of the convenient devices meant to make traveling less stressful. This is not always the case in Wyoming and Fremont County.
"Not always sure fire. I would like to say it was. I use it a lot but it is not sure fire," said Karla Connell, Lander Resident
"When we first moved back to Wyoming I was trying to use it to get from Casper to Ten Sleep and it did take me through a kind of roundabout way," said Ed Newbold, Lander Resident.
Spring snow can make some seasonal roads impassable. Fremont County Sheriff Captain Ryan Lee said the GPS directions may not take seasonal access into account. Even without snow there are thousands of miles of rough dirt roads in the county. Lee said they receive roughly a dozen calls annually from people stranded using GPS.
"These things work when you are in a city but out here in rural Fremont County they don't work," said Lee.
You can the most updated maps on the device but it often looks for the quickest route putting some motorists in dangerous situations.
"It told them to ford a river near Hudson and they actually drove the vehicle down towards the river and at that point became stuck and called us and thankfully do one was hurt but they actually thought they had to cross the river to get to Hudson to go to Lander. There is no bridge there," said Lee.
Sheriff's deputies’ attempted to mitigate the problem in areas around Beaver Rim but they said the problem continues.
"We posted that with signs warning motorists not to take that road and rely upon a GPS device however they read the signs and they still go by it and actually go out and get stuck," said Lee.
Lee reminds drivers most towns and cities in Wyoming are connected by a paved road.
"If you are turning off of a perfectly good paved roadway onto a two track dirt road the intuition you should have is that something is just not right here and I would rethink that decision and maybe take a look at a paper map," said Lee.
Lee said some travel as many as 40 miles in the wrong direction before becoming stranded. He also said most are from out of town.
Lee said there have been no serious injuries or deaths associated with those stranded GPS users in Fremont County.