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GPS drives family up mountain, they get stuck

Commentary: An Oregon family say their friendly tech helper caused them to get stuck with no shovel and no cellphone signal.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

The Sanquists. Snowed in.

ABC News screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Gadgets only know so much.

The problem is that they act as if they know it all and humans are all too ready to believe them. I think, you know, humans rather like the thought of living in a gadget-ruled authoritarian world.

GPS is one of those gadgets to which we've become slaves. Sometimes, though, they send us up a certain creek without a paddle. Or a certain snowy mountain road without a cellphone service.

As ABC News reports, the Sanquist family from Portland, Oregon -- mom, dad, 9-year-old daughter and dog (age unknown) --were on their way to California.

Their GPS gave them the shortest route. This involved going up Happy Camp Road, near Page Mountain Sno-Park, Oregon.

But what the computer may not have considered is that this is December and, quite often, this is a month in which snow falls on mountains.

Not every road gets plowed.

So the Sanquists found themselves stuck. They didn't happen to have a shovel. Oh, and there was no cellphone service either.

It's as if technology was ganging up on them.

"I'm not even sure if I had a shovel, I could have dug out," Ron Sanquist told ABC. So they bedded down in their car -- and thankfully had enough food -- in the hope that first light would bring hope.

It was left to dad to trudge two miles in order to call 911 and get rescue experts to help them out. They arrived at their destination more than 17 hours late.

This is neither the first nor last time that GPS has led people astray. It has led to death, just as it has led to cars and people submerged in 100-foot lakes.

Gadgets aren't perfect. They're made by humans, who most certainly aren't perfect.

Please beware. It's OK to go the long way around. In life, as in cars.