(WMC-TV) - According to experts, some GPS devices often work off different or outdated maps.
A planned day trip into California's Death Valley for Donna Cooper, along with her daughter and a friend, turned into a life or death ordeal when her GPS kept directing them to roads that no longer exist.
"Around and around, and we just get getting 'further' and 'further' and 'further' in to Death Valley," she said.
While rarely as dramatic, almost everyone has his or her own story of being led astray by a GPS.
Turns out, different GPS units use different map software which is often created by teams who drive around in cars loaded with mapping gadgets. But not all units are up to date.
In some remote areas, the GPS may be relying on old government maps.
"It's definitely possible that there's data there that's 10, 20, 40, [or] 50 years old and would still show up on someone's GPS and be entirely wrong," said technology reporter Bob Sullivan.
Researchers who publish the Michelin Travel maps did their own study. They found 30 percent of all adults use some sort of GPS unit. And that 63 percent of GPS users have been led astray at least once by the GPS instructions.
Back in Death Valley, a helicopter rescue team found Donna Cooper, her friend, and her daughter after three days in the desert.
"People who get lost in Death Valley do not live, we were so very fortunate, I mean, so very fortunate," said Cooper.
Technology pros said users need to update GPS's software often to get the latest available maps.
Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.
730 North Summit Street