In an unfamiliar city after dark, 64-year-old Mary Davis let her GPS device lead the way, police said. When it told her to make a right, evidently she did -- right onto railroad track and into the path of an oncoming train.
If not for a local officer who spotted her and urged her to leave the car, police said the outcome could have been tragic. Less than a minute after Davis climbed out the door, the train rammed into the back of her vehicle, totaling it, police said.
"It was touch and go," said John Saldano, chief of police for Leetonia, Ohio. "There was a very, very good chance we would have had a fatality on our hands."
Davis did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABCNews.com. But Saldano said the home health care worker from Youngstown, Ohio, was driving Sunday night through Leetonia.
Since she was about 30 minutes south of her hometown, he said, she was using her GPS device to guide her. When it told her to make a right, he said she likely turned immediately on to the train track instead of onto a road about 40 feet beyond.
"She was probably relying on that GPS to get her to her destination and she made that bad turn," he said. "Once she got on the railroad track there, she was stuck."
Though Global Positioning System, or GPS, devices can be an immense help for motorists far from home, GPS mistakes -- be they the drivers' or the data's -- can sometimes lead to hazardous results, with drivers ending up on hundred-mile detours, stranded in the snow or, in the very worst cases, near death.
In December, a couple from Reno, Nev., said were they stranded for three days in the snow after their GPS device directed them onto an unplowed road in an Oregon forest.
At the time, John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, told "Good Morning America" they were driving home from Oregon "when we noticed that the snow was getting deep and we were over 30 miles into this road. We thought we didn't have much farther to go."
But their four-wheel-drive Toyota Sequoia became stuck in the snow and, with cell phones that wouldn't pick up signals, the couple had to wait three days before local officials could find them and pull them out of the snow.
In 2008, GPS directions led a nearly 12-foot-high bus carrying a girls' softball team into a 9-foot-high tunnel. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the accident sliced off the roof of the charter bus and landed 21 students and a coach in the hospital. All subsequently were treated and released.
Not all mistakes lead to such harrowing situations, but they still can result in headaches.
A Swedish couple on vacation found themselves more than 400 miles away off-track last summer when they misspelled the name of their travel destination in their car's GPS.
Intending to visit the island of Capri on the Mediterranean coast, they typed in Carpi, and powered on until they reached an industrial town in Northern Italy.
A local tourism official, Angelo Giovannini, told the Associated Press at the time, "Capri is an island. They did not even wonder why they didn't cross any bridge or take any boat."
Brad Preston, 44, from Oregon City, Ore., said he regularly experiences GPS frustration when he's not even in the car.