Can Waze Help you Hack Your Commute?

Waze uses social metrics to help you beat traffic—and keep your cool.

traffic app in hand

If you live more than fifteen minutes from your office, chances are your daily commute occasionally catches a snag, courtesy of an accident or just plain old traffic congestion. And what’s more stressful than a prolonged commute? You’ve read all the studies: Being stuck in a car (and stuck among other people in cars) brings about stress, and worse. According to Slate‘s Annie Lowry:

In the past decade or so, researchers have produced a significant body of research measuring the dreadfulness of a long commute. People with long transit times suffer from disproportionate pain, stress, obesity, and dissatisfaction. The joy of living in a big, exurban house, or that extra income left over from your cheap rent? It is almost certainly not worth it.

So commuting is a real problem, and in true tech innovation fashion, Waze was founded to provide a real solution to that problem. The community-driven app, which gathers complementary map data and traffic information from other users and uses it to estimate your best possible route. Waze users can report everything from accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, even the cheapest gas prices. As a result, you no longer have to rely solely on the red line—instead, you can lean on your fellow drivers. We’re all for avoiding our own problems traffic here at Quoted, so we were thrilled to learn about Waze, which was acquired by Google last June for $966 million.

It’s cute, right?

Lifehack Your Commute—Or That Holiday Road Trip

Over Thanksgiving weekend, The Zebra’s culture and office manager Lisa Szaraz took a post-holiday road trip from her hometown of Boca Raton, Florida back to sunny Austin, Texas. That’s 1,306 miles and approximately 19 hours and seven minutes—at least in current traffic. But Szaraz had Waze on her side, she explains: “During the road-trip, Waze proved to be the best co-pilot for myself and a friend. We were thankful for the other ‘Wazers’ ahead of us, alerting to cars in pulled over in highway shoulders, accidents holding up traffic, and most importantly, any speed traps along the way.”

By avoiding traffic, Szaraz avoided tickets and potential accidents alike. Plus, she says, “Having the ability to connect socially with other drivers on the road was something entirely innovative, making the usual downsides of a road-trip more enjoyable.”

Waze provides a social solution to speed traps, accident awareness, and more.

How Waze Could Save you Money as Well as Time

We don’t actually have to paint this picture with stats, because you already know it’s true: Heavy traffic leads to aggressive driving, which in turn leads to car accidents. Just in case you need an official definition of aggressive driving, though, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has one for you:

“The operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property”—a traffic and not a criminal offense like road rage. Examples include speeding or driving too fast for conditions, improper lane changing, tailgating and improper passing.

Of the 6.8 million car crashes that occur annually, the NHTSA estimates that a “substantial number” are estimated to be caused by aggressive driving. But here’s the kicker about aggressive driving: It’s both something that we all worry about and something many of us are guilty of. According to a NHTSA survey, more than 60 percent of drivers consider unsafe driving by others, including speeding, a major personal threat to themselves and their families. But in the very same survey, more than half of respondents admitted to driving agressively on occasion.

Waze may be as good a solution as any other, then, in its simplicity: Traffic and other drivers make you feel crazed, inhuman, ready to snap? Then instead of fighting through it, use the app to find a way around people all together.

It’s worth noting that some safety advocates have argued that Waze is dangerous because of its many icons and user feedback channels. The app is hands-free, but new studies have shown that even hands-free devices can prove distracting behind the wheel. Rocca Pendola, a writer at The Street, even called it a “fender bender or life-changing accident waiting to happen.”

What do you think? Would you Waze—or do you already?

  • I don’t use the Waze app (because it’s kinda bootleg) but the Waze data making its way into Google Maps has been pretty amazing. They even have alerts showing in Google Now, so your phone can alert you to traffic/accidents without even having navigation running. Magic!