Traffic navigation app Waze is adding a new feature to its toolbox today. It’s called crash history alerts, and it’s meant to warn drivers about dangerous hotspots, based on a combination of historical data plus road and traffic data.
Originally an independent startup, in 2013 Google purchased the Israeli company for $1.15 billion, perhaps beating Apple to the punch. Even before the purchase, Waze was becoming an Ars reader favorite thanks to more advanced traffic rerouting than either Google Maps or Apple Maps.
It has not been entirely smooth sailingdriving; for a while the app was infamous for asking drivers to make difficult left turns across busy multi-lane roads and routing cars through once-quiet neighborhoods as shortcuts, aggravating the people who live in those neighborhoods.
After a long period operating as its own company, more recently Google has been integrating Waze into its “Geo” division, home to Google Maps. That merger was followed this year by layoffs.
One feature of Waze that was unique for a long time was its ability to crowdsource traffic information. Users add live traffic information to the app as they’re driving, like a car stopped by the side of the road or a crash. Waze now leverages that data, together with geographic information including road layout and elevation, plus typical traffic levels, to determine whether a particular stretch of road has a high crash rate. Should that be the case, the app will warn the driver.
However, Waze says that to minimize distractions, it won’t show these alerts on regularly traveled roads and will limit alerts on unfamiliar roads to prevent driver overload.