The Washington Post published an eye-opening article examining the downside effects of popular navigation apps. Drivers armed with apps like Waze and Google Maps are able to very effectively thwart the ill effects of modern commuter hell: road closures, accidents, and traffic jams —all previously hidden obstacles prior to mobile networks. Sharing information with one another drivers can react to changing traffic conditions in real time finding the quickest route along their given commute.
The ruthless efficiency of waze for instance can be problematic for once tranquil neighbourhoods inundated with excessive traffic volume (and noise/pollution) on streets that were never designed to function as main thoroughfares. Residents are getting the short end of the stick. But the makers of these apps don’t seem to empathize with the homeowners predicament. Attempts among residents to divert traffic away from their streets by ‘gaming’ routes with false information are swiftly removed by the app developers. Other ‘wazers’ logged-in to the app and driving in the vicinity are also quick to debunk fake reports of traffic bottlenecks or closures. For homeowners seeking peace and quiet it’s a losing battle.
The other perhaps unintended consequence of these navigation apps is the growing incidence of distracted driving. There’s no denying the distraction inducing effects associated with using these apps while behind the wheel —and now apparently studies confirm talking on a hands-free phone is equally distracting as picking up a device. It’s incredible to think how many technological distractions already exist in the modern automobile, and now we’re adding to it with our phones.
As a motorcyclist who routinely commutes in to work most days I find this trend really concerning. Not a day goes by that I’m not either cut-off or nearly smashed by a driver with their head buried down in their phone texting away. Is it any wonder the number of traffic accidents involving distracted drivers, particularly Uber and Lyft drivers, is on the rise?