Back in January, the City of Winnipeg launched the long awaited Transportation Management Centre (TMC). 680 CJOB reported that the $3.6 million facility is meant to improve traffic flow around the city and, by means of a free downloadable app called Waze, Winnipeg driver’s can provide real-time traffic information as they are travelling through the city.
So, for the past week, I have been using Waze to see how well it works and if it would help speed up my drive to and from work. Keep in mind, I am a creature of habit and have driven the same route in the morning and afternoon, everyday. My morning commute from Transcona to Polo Park typically took me about 45 minutes in good conditions (dry streets, usual traffic, no trains). Since the app analyzes your route to work in real-time taking into consideration heavy traffic, construction, accidents, etc. I have shaved off about 10 – 15 minutes as the app directs you around all of these problems.
Of course there are some pros and cons to using the Waze app. Here’s a brief breakdown of what I believe to be the best and worst features of this app.
- analyzes and updates your estimated time of arrival
- displays the current speed limit
- displays your actual speed and will notify you as soon as you exceed the speed limit
- tells you when you’re approaching red light cameras and hazards
- allows drivers to share information about traffic, police, accidents, hazards, construction, etc.
- hands free
- alerts and notifications, albeit can be turned off in the app settings, can be distracting
- directs you down many side streets
- expects you to perform some miraculous maneuvers
In my opinion, this app is meant for seasoned drivers who are not afraid of driving in heavy traffic or making some pretty slick moves. For example, during one of my trips home, Waze took me down a few residential side streets and then proceeded to pour me out onto Main Street where it directed me to do a u-turn right in front of the Planetarium during 5pm traffic. Needless to say, I had to perform some Frogger-esque moves to get myself onto the Disraeli Freeway.
Hang on a minute…
After reviewing all the pros and cons, my biggest issue isn’t with the functionality of the app itself or how it is connected to the TMC, but rather the fact that it is against the law to use a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle. Let me get all nerdy for just a minute here. Section 215 of The Highway Traffic Act states “No person shall use a hand-operated electronic device while driving a vehicle on a highway”. This law defines the word “use” to include: holding, operating it’s functions, communicating with another person and looking at the device’s display. So this would mean that even if you simply shift your eyes from the road to look at your phone, you’ve broken the law. So what are we to do with the Waze app?