Google’s Waze Is Helping Drivers Avoid Left-Hand Turns
Left-hand turns can be fraught with peril, particularly when there’s no traffic light.
Turn the backdrop to rush hour in Los Angeles, and left-hand turns become a scourge that most drivers try to avoid. And that can cause a new problem—more right-hand turns and a longer commute.
Waze, the mapping and navigation app acquired by Alphabet’s Google (GOOG) in 2013, has introduced a new routing feature—initially for the Los Angeles area—to help drivers bypass those difficult intersections, when possible. The “Difficult Intersections” setting is automatically enabled for drivers in Los Angeles. Users can disable the feature in settings. The feature will expand to New Orleans soon, Waze says. Other cities around the world will be added as needs are identified, the company says.
Waze says it tries to strike a balance between avoiding difficult intersections and an efficient, short route. By default, the app will calculate the best possible route the bypasses a difficult intersection. If that bypass is significantly longer, the driver may still be routed through a difficult intersection, Waze says.
The goal of the feature is to reduce the amount of these intersections, not completely eliminate them.
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To create this feature Waze turned to locals—specifically the people who help edit its maps. These Angelenos shared lists of what they perceived to be the most difficult intersections and provided alternate solutions. The company also worked with the city of Los Angeles to better understand the area.
Users who don’t live in Los Angeles, but who think their city has some particularly tricky intersections can report it from the app under Report > Map Issue, Waze says.
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Waze is constantly rolling out new features. Last month, the company introduced a feature to help drivers avoid speeding by giving users alerts if they’re driving too fast. It was created to help drivers navigate unfamiliar areas where the speed limit may be unposted or changes seasonally, according to Waze. The feature is now available in 18 countries including Austria, Brazil, Colombia, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and Uruguay. The U.S. was notably absent from the list.
The company also recently started experimenting with carpooling in the San Francisco Bay area. Waze, which began testing its carpooling service last year in Israel, expanded the pilot to 25,000 local employees at select companies, including Adobe and Walmart Global eCommerce.