A word of advice: if you are driving in Oregon and your GPS unit says to follow a Forest Service road, don't do it. It will most likely lead you into trouble, at least in winter.
First, according to various news reports, an older Nevada couple using their four-wheel-drive Toyota Sequoia GPS system to guide them through Eastern Oregon's high desert on Christmas instead got stuck in snow when their GPS unit sent them down a lightly traveled Forest Service road.
It took three days before atmospheric conditions allowed their GPS equipped phone to send out their coordinates to rescuers.
A local sheriff commented that, "GPS almost did 'em in and GPS saved 'em."
The couple, aged 65 and 67, were well-prepared for winter travel and had brought along warm clothes, food and extra water.
According to this report, the couple had followed their GPS south from Portland, Oregon onto Highway 97 to Oregon Highway 31, which goes through Silver Lake and Lakeview in Oregon's outback country before connecting with Highway 395 to Reno, Nevada.
In Silver Lake, the GPS instructed them to turn right on Forest Service Road 28, and they followed that for nearly 35 miles before getting stuck in about 1.5 feet of snow.
Then, a young Lebanon, Oregon couple and their 11-month old daughter got stuck Christmas Eve after following a GPS offered "short cut" on a Forest Service road that would supposedly save them 40 miles on their trip to see family in the CIty of The Dalles, Oregon. However, this couple did not have any food or extra clothing in their SUV. The couple tried to use their cell phones to call for help, but could not get a signal.
They were found a day later after rescuers used the same type of GPS unit to map their potential routes. The story did not identify the GPS unit involved.
On a side note, I received a press release Sunday from Magellan GPS announcing the availability of an upgraded version of its Magellan RoadMate App for the iPhone.
I wonder if it would have given both couples the same directions?
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.