Waze Predicts Road Dangers in MarylandAugust 24, 2018
Waze is a traffic and navigation application that helps drivers receive the best route to their destinations by sharing first-hand information. Users of the application can actively report accidents, police traps, and road hazards, while also contributing traffic and other road data as they drive with the application open on their phone. With millions of users, Waze has generated valuable crash data, which the federal government is now evaluating.
How Accurate is Waze Crash Data?
The U.S. Transportation Department tapped the Waze application to compare its data to the data collected by the Maryland state police. The federal analysts sought to determine how well the application estimates major crashes. They compared decades of collision reports collected by government agencies to the Waze crash data and concluded that the application was accurate.
This finding is promising, especially considering the rising number of injuries from crashes. According to federal estimates, more than 37,000 people were fatally injured last year. This alarming increase is partly due to dangerous habits, such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving. Federal officials are hoping that the safety insights gleaned from the Waze application will help to address these issues.
Waze Provides Valuable Information
Government data, while more robust, can take a long time to be compiled from various agencies. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) provides details to the exact causes of fatal crashes, however, that data may not be finalized for a year, whereas Waze data is available every two minutes. Many are taking advantage of Waze’s readily-available data; the Google-owned company has worked on data projects with more than 500 city, state, and national governments.
Boston recently tapped Waze data to identify traffic jams in its Seaport District and was able to cut congestion by up to 20 percent in some areas. Waze data was also used in Budapest to test a lower speed limit on a crash-prone road and accidents fell by more than a third after the speed limit was dropped to under 45 miles per hour. The spokeswoman for the Maryland state police says that both government-collected data and crowdsourced data are important to gain a thorough overview of current road conditions.
How Waze Data Will Be Used
The Transportation Department’s undersecretary for policy reports that Waze data will be integrated with data from other sources that provide information regarding weather, demographics, and highway geometric information to estimate crash risk. Transportation officials and others hope that a safer system can be created by understanding the roles of human behavior, vehicle design, weather, and roadway conditions in accidents. This will hopefully allow them to deploy safety resources at specific times and to places that are predicted to be high risk.
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