It’s a fan favorite scene from “The Office,” where the star of the TV show relies a little too much on GPS and ends up in a lake.
The same thing is happening here in Wyoming, but without the lake. Faulty GPS directions are directing travelers in southern Wyoming to Colorado.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is warning that Google Maps is wrongly telling people that Interstate 80 near Rock Springs is closed and then rerouting the travelers to Colorado, which would add add many hours on to their drive time.
WYDOT spokesman Doug McGee attributed the faulty information to a construction project on I80.
“There’s a large and lengthy highway construction project in that area, as much as 25 miles or so,” McGee told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “I think Google’s Artificial Intelligence looks at the motion on people’s cell phones and because of this, it reads as the road is closed, which it is not.”
McGee and fellow WYDOT spokeswoman Jordan Achs both recommended that anyone traveling across Wyoming check WyoRoad.Info, WYDOT’s website that has the most up-to-date road conditions across Wyoming.
In the meantime, WYDOT is trying to get its message out on social media channels.
“There are no closures at this time, but there is construction in the area, including head-to-head lanes and reduced speed limits. We are working with Google to try to resolve the issue,” the department posted on Facebook on Wednesday.
Making It Clear
McGee emphasized that drivers do not need to reroute into Colorado in order to get to Salt Lake City, adding unnecessary miles and fuel stops to the trip. Wyoming’s interstates, all of them, are still open.
Achs said no one has yet called to complain about being rerouted through Colorado, but the department has received several calls from people asking whether Interstate 80 is closed, which, again, it is not.
Disappointingly, neither McGee nor Achs have received reports of anyone driving into a lake or on a sidewalk because their GPS told them that was the correct route.
While Google Maps and other GPS services usually are reliable, there have been some entertaining instances of drivers relying on computers more than their own eyes.
Like the man who drove on a stairwell in New York City after his GPS took him on a wrong turn.
Or the Japanese tourists in Australia whose GPS told them they could drive to an island in the Pacific Ocean through nine miles of water.
Or even the women visiting Washington who made a U-turn into a lake.