With mobile traffic applications such as Waze causing a dangerous flood of traffic to be funneled onto tiny side streets, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a proposal Tuesday that will develop ways to curb the apps from diverting drivers off of major thoroughfares.
“There are tremendous advantages to apps like Waze,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who introduced the motion seeking the solution. “They can make driving more efficient, but with every technological advance, any consequences that arise must be taken into account. With this vote, the city will have the go ahead to start a dialogue with these tech companies to see if they will work more closely with us to reduce the impact their apps are having on small residential streets and increase the level of traffic safety in our neighborhoods.”
At a meeting in October, the Transportation Committee discussed the matter with Los Angeles Department of Transportation staff and recommended that the council designate LADOT as the lead agency to negotiate a data sharing agreement with navigation application companies to explore what solutions to the issues can be negotiated.
Krekorian introduced a similar motion in 2015 that asked Waze to partner with the city and alleviate traffic on residential streets, but he said Waze ignored the request. Waze has not responded to previous attempts to comment on the motion.
“The real-world neighborhood impacts of sending distracted, stressed and/or lost drivers down unfamiliar streets remain,” Krekorian’s new motion says. “And while there are certainly other factors that contribute to the overwhelming amount of traffic in narrow, neighborhood feeder streets, map app makers — like Google, Apple and Waze — have shown little interest in helping neighborhoods reduce the hazards on their streets.”
Krekorian is not the only council member to raise issues about Waze and safety.
Councilman David Ryu sent a letter in April to the City Attorney’s Office asking for a review of possible legal action against Waze for causing traffic problems
During a series of wildfires in December 2017, 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 motion introduced that month by Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz that is still under consideration.
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.