Looking for a shortcut? CHP warns apps may get drivers lost in winter season

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TRUCKEE, Calif. (KTXL) -- After a busy holiday travel weekend, the California Highway Patrol began warning drivers about trying to find shortcuts with smartphone apps like Google Maps and Waze.

At times, heading over Donner Summit over the holiday weekend was not easy for travelers.

“We saw the gamut of everything, from massive freeway closures to restricting certain types of vehicle traffic over the freeway to try to alleviate some of the congestion,” said CHP spokesman Peter Mann.

But people who live in Truckee, like Natalie Tseko, said the worst was the traffic in the residential neighborhoods.

“Everyone in the world had to leave on Saturday,” Tseko told FOX40. “So we were backed-up all the way to the town.”

Mann said he believes smartphone apps were to blame. He explained sometimes travelers try to get around traffic by using side roads without four-wheel drive or chains.

“They start going up that road and they’re not chained up or they’re not in a properly equipped vehicle for it. Then they end up getting that road shut down as well,” he said.

Mann said Alder Creek Road and Old Highway 40 have become especially problematic.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time those aren’t the safest routes to go. So we see it here all the time with Old Highway 40,” Mann explained. “Got big rigs going up there. They get jackknifed and closes down the entire road.”

Tseko said it’s frustrating to residents who then cannot get home.

“If they go into neighborhoods that will eventually get them stuck, there’s people not going to be around all the time to help them,” she said.

Mann said it’s best to have chains ready and to stay on the freeway -- no matter how slow it’s going.

“And we’re not going to leave anybody out here on the highway,” he said. “And, more importantly, it is the safest route for you.”

Meanwhile, the problem has gotten so bad that some days Tseko said she will not even go out.

“It does bring frustration. Or you’re just like me, you stay home, you don’t go anywhere,” she told FOX40.

In the valley, the CHP warns those apps often take drivers to roads that have flooded during heavy rains. They say it’s best to check roads on CHP and Caltrans social media pages and to be patient.

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