New nav app set to put an end to time wasted in traffic jams
But life is about to get much easier for those racking up the motorway miles thanks to a new smartphone app called Waze.
The clever piece of tech, which hails from Israel, fuses traditional satellite navigation with social networking functionality, allowing Waze members – or Wazers, as they are affectionately known – to update maps with live traffic information and report any breaking incidents.
Live traffic information is nothing new, many satellite navigation systems offer a live reporting service, but Waze differs in the way it re-routes its frustrated, jam-stricken users.
"Waze doesn't simply find the nearest alternative route," explains senior growth executive Julie Mossler in a recent interview with AOL Cars.
"It takes suggestions from other Waze users and gives options based on local expertise, so the driver doesn't end up on a route that is longer or difficult to navigate," she added.
The other benefit of a community-based navigation system is the more people that join, the more information that can be shared, thus more scope to plan a journey or adjust it should the traffic situation change.
For example, major sporting events, such as marathons or cycling sportives, can be inputted by users who can not only mark closed roads but also suggest alternative routes based on in-depth knowledge of the surrounding area.
"The beauty of our application is that the map doesn't just show a big, red line every time a traffic situation arises," explains Mossler.
"It analyses the traffic situation and adjusts accordingly. So if there's some road kill blocking the route ahead, it's unlikely the application would offer a completely new route, as it will probably be cleared in a few minutes.
"But if an entire truck full of livestock crashes in the road, Waze will consult the community and find a quicker, alternative route."
Waze users are tracked by the software and can choose whether or not they show up on the map for the rest of the community to see. The benefit of being 'visible' is that friends can select a meeting place and see when companions have arrived, for example, or you could snoop on your employees and make sure they're not driving to the beach when they are supposed to be holed-up with flu.
While we're on the subject if privacy issues, surely an application that can access data such as driving styles and speeds is prime evidence for police forces?
"We haven't handed personal information to a third party or the emergency services yet and I couldn't see a time where we would," said Mossler.
"Perhaps in an emergency situation, such as a natural disaster like a landslide, we would look into revealing the whereabouts of users. Worried family members would want to know this information," she added.
Although predominantly used in US cities, Waze has a community of over 80,000 users in London, with hopes to expand its reach across the UK.
"We're hoping more people will join the community and improve the traffic situation here in the UK. It's one of our fastest growing markets," revealed Mossler.
Waze is available to download from the iTunes App Store, Google Play and the Windows Phone Store now.