GPS Dirt Roads = Stranded Travelers

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Weekend highway closures made rescues necessary on secondary roads, as travelers tried to take unpaved shortcuts.

We looked at the reason you need to stay on highways, especially during the spring in Wyoming.

Last weekend both a tractor-trailer and Subaru passenger car both got stuck, one overnight on a muddy dirt road.

Fremont County Undersheriff Ryan Lee commented, “The highway through Wind River Canyon was closed so their GPS told them they could take an alternate route over Mexican Pass which is a dirt roadway that is not passable in the winter or the spring due to heavy mud and snow conditions in that area.”

WYDOT Spokesman Cody Beers told News 13, “In Wyoming, in other western rural states, it’s never a good idea to have your tom-tom or whatever unit you’ve got directing you to leave a paved road onto a dirt road.”

Lee said drivers need to be aware of the dangers you face when traveling dirt roads during the spring.

“The GPS or Tom-tom will tell them to take a dirt roadway as a shortcut to get to Riverton if you will from sand draw and you can’t drive a car down these roadways and people get turned around or stuck and we routinely end up having to go rescue these people.”

“Spring time and the fall are bad times to leave the highway especially when you don’t know what the road conditions are going to be when you do that, so when the highway’s closed that’s a really good indication that you shouldn’t leave the highway and drive on a dirt road,” said Beers.

If you brave a dirt road and get stuck, it could be days before somebody finds you as cell reception is bad, if it even exists and almost no one uses those roads including deputies.

Lee commented, “We can only go so far in those, so you know that’s not something we routinely patrol and look for and there’s usually not a lot of other people out in those areas recreating because they know not to be in those places so you can be stranded for a long period of time.”

If you get stuck deputies will come and save you, however you’ll have to find a way to get your car out yourself.

Lee added if you do try to brave a dirt road, make sure you know your general location.

The drivers of the Subaru this weekend didn’t even know what road they were on, so it took hours for deputies to find them the next morning, leaving them stuck overnight.