Waze is a navigation app that you can install on your phone. It shares out your phone’s location and speed in order to create a real time speed map based on data from all the users around you. For that purpose Waze works really well. It was able, for example to route me around a traffic snarl in my local neighborhood in a really creative way. It’s really an awesome app for doing things like daily commutes if there are issues with variable traffic patterns. Given how well it works it was with regret that I uninstalled it.
The reason that I uninstalled it is that I felt that by using it I was condoning dangerous behavior. Behavior that could literally get people killed. The issue I saw with Waze is that I believe its UX encourages people to interact with the app while driving. Waze doesn’t just want to collect speed data. It wants more specific information such as the presence of speed traps, accidents, etc. Entering this information requires touching the phone while driving. I believe that is encouraging incredibly dangerous behavior that puts both the driver and everyone around them in danger. To the extent that I use Waze I am benefiting from the peril that I believe the app puts its users and those around them in. That would be, I think, unethical so I had to uninstall what is an otherwise very useful app.
5 thoughts on “Why I ran a-waze”
This is an old post, in internet time, but for posterity sake, I’d like to comment. I agree that it’s dangerous to input data while driving, but it is very useful if you have a copilot. Also, I believe that there is a plugin app that allows voice commands. So to summarize, there is no reason to “throw the baby out with that bathwater”, as they say. If we had to forsake all things that have potential for unethical use, where would we be?
The problem is that I had what I believed to be a reasonable suspicion that the majority of people inputing data into the app were not using a co-pilot (most Americans drive alone) and weren’t using the voice commands. Fiddling around with your phone while driving is exactly as dangerous as driving while drunk. Therefore the data collected by the app was created by directly endangering other drivers. As such if I benefited from that information than I was supporting putting those other driver’s lives in danger. That’s why I abandoned the app.
BTW, there is good reason to believe that voice commands aren’t safe either. For example, see http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/06/using_voice_commands_to_send_texts_while_driving_more_dangerous_then_talking_on_phone_study_says.html.
Also note that all you need to do is to tap the “Report” button once – Waze shows a dialog box for defining alert type (accident, hazard, …). By the time you do the first click, Waze remembers the GPS position it was clicked. Then you can ride to the next red light and finish the report while not moving. There is no need to interact more while driving…
This assumes that most folks would use it that way. Given the high incidence of people texting while driving I find it unlikely that folks would wait. Also any action that takes your eyes off the road (such as finding that button) is inherently dangerous.
I uninstalled Waze because of ridiculous routing. Just yesterday, 12/9/2017, I drove a route I have traveled dozens of times in St Petersburg, FL. My normal route takes me to my final destination via two major city streets, the last with 3 lanes and timed street lights. Waze wanted to direct me down side streets; I ignored the persistent commans, the last two wanting to take me down cobblestone streets with stop signs as far as I could see. I took my normal route, and lo and behold, Waze recalculated my arrival time showing that my route was 9 minutes faster than hers, via the two final major arteries that everyone in St Pete knows. Unfortunately, this incident was not an isolated one; Waze event wanted to send me down back streets to my home, streets that I know and routinely avoid due to multiple stop signs. My home town has minimal traffic at worst.
I agree that Google Driving / Maps is far superior.