The city should explore taking legal action against the traffic app Waze for the dangerous conditions it has allegedly created on some Los Angeles streets, City Councilman David Ryu said Tuesday.
Ryu sent a letter to the City Attorney’s Office asking it to review possible legal action against the company, which is owned by Google.
“Waze has upended our city’s traffic plans, residential neighborhoods and public safety for far too long,” Ryu said. “Their responses have been inadequate and their solutions non-existent. They say the crises of congestion they cause is the price for innovation — I say that’s a false choice.”
Ryu’s letter said Waze-led rush-hour traffic has overrun the Sherman Oaks Hills neighborhood . One narrow street built for local use is sustaining 679 vehicles an hour, causing accidents and other problems, Ryu said.
“If we do nothing, Waze will lead us on a race to the bottom — where traffic plans are ignored and every street is gridlocked,” Ryu said.
Google did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Ryu is not the first City Council member who has said Waze is creating safety issues in Los Angeles.
Last week, Councilman Paul Krekorian introduced a motion calling for the city to develop approaches to curb Waze and other traffic apps from diverting drivers off of major thoroughfares.
The city has a data sharing agreement with Waze, and Krekorian’s motion would direct the city’s Department of Transportation to report to the City Council on the current partnership with Waze and other app operators, including detailing what information L.A. gives them and what the city gets from them.
The motion would also ask the transportation department what efforts it has made to get the app companies to address neighborhood concerns, call on the city attorney to analyze whether app companies share liability for damages in collisions caused by their users, and urge the City Council to request that the app companies make their representatives available to work with the city” to reduce problems caused by their technology.”
During a series of wildfires in December, navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps were guiding drivers into evacuation areas and caused congestion where officials were ordering streets closed, according to a pending motion introduced that month by Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz.
Koretz’s motion would direct the fire department and Department of Transportation to report on efforts to coordinate with navigation app developers to prevent their apps from directing drivers into evacuated areas.
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