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Some Google Maps and Waze Features Need to Be Disabled Right Now, Experts Say

Researchers from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety–Queensland (CARRS-Q) warn that several navigation apps, including Google Maps and Waze, have become what they describe as a “road safety threat.” That's because they allow drivers to flag the location of police enforcement on the map.
Police report on Waze app 1 photo
Both Google Maps and Waze rely on crowdsourcing to let drivers send reports along their routes. Waze, for example, makes it possible to mark the location on the map of things like potholes, accidents, vehicles stopped on the road, traffic jams, roadkill, and speed traps.

But Dr. Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios and Professor Barry Watson explain that features specifically built to alert drivers of the location of speed cameras and police officers should be disabled as soon as possible; otherwise, authorities should step in and make the whole thing mandatory.

The two researchers explain that any audio alert provided by the navigation apps whenever a police report is detected along their route actually increases the distraction behind the wheel, as most drivers look at the screen. Furthermore, encouraging drivers to report the location of police means they need to interact with their devices, thus taking the eyes off the road.

Then, knowing where speed traps are located makes them less effective, the researchers explain.

Knowledge of enforcement locations can serve to reduce drivers’ perceived risk of apprehension, thereby eroding the deterrent effect of the enforcement … this can lead drivers to believe they can engage in risky behaviors with impunity, potentially leading to increased road trauma,” they say.

While admitting that some companies have indeed implemented additional features to reduce the distraction behind the wheel, such as the Do Not Disturb systems automatically enabled when getting in the car, offering such features to evade police road safety enforcement “undermines the integrity and legitimacy of road rules and related police enforcement.

The two researchers call for more improvements in this regard and increased efforts from tech companies to convince drivers to activate Do Not Disturb while driving.

 
 
 
 
 

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