DON’T FOLLOW YOUR GPS IN A WINTER STORM
MEDFORD – The Jackson County Roads and Sheriff’s Departments are urging travelers to not follow their GPS devices to navigate around road closures in a winter storm.
As a result of Tuesday’s difficult travel conditions and Interstate 5 closures, many drivers diverted onto high mountain county roads in an attempt to by-pass I-5, only to get stuck and require assistance.
Many motorists, including semi-trucks which are prohibited under winter conditions, diverted onto Dead Indian Memorial Road, a remote, steep, narrow road that is 1000’ higher in elevation than Siskiyou Pass and is far more difficult to drive than I-5. Most of these motorists were unprepared for the driving conditions, did not install chains and several crashed or slid off the road requiring assistance. “Diverting from major highways to rural, remote county roads during a winter storm in hopes that you can make it is not a wise decision,” noted John Vial, Jackson County Roads and Parks Director.
The most challenging incident occurred when thirteen vehicles diverted from Interstate 5 onto Colestine Road and spent most of the night waiting for Jackson County Search and Rescue and County Road Department employees to rescue them. Response crews were able to remove the stranded vehicles around 3:00 am Wednesday morning. Sergeant Shawn Richards who responded to the incident noted, “We are seeing an increasing trend of drivers choosing to blindly follow a GPS into areas they are not familiar with and as we have seen in other areas, this could have turned out tragic, I’m grateful this time it didn’t.”
Colestine Road is a narrow, very steep, gravel road that is unmaintained during evening hours, that leads from the summit of the Siskiyou Pass into northern California. The route is signed as not being maintained after dark in the winter.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office
Jackson County Roads and Parks