Navigation apps and gadgets have grown in popularity. What started as simple mapping applications that could get you from point A to point B are now able to take in reported driving conditions and reroute your commute to avoid traffic jams.
As these driving assistants become ubiquitous, other problems are coming to light. One issue is that sometimes the rerouting algorithms can pass large volumes of traffic through areas where it is not necessarily welcome.
For example, the town of Leonia, a small suburb in New Jersey with a population of less than 9,000, sits near two major interstates. Traffic on these highways is a nightmare during rush hour so apps like Waze route users through Leonia. The heavy traffic cutting through has created its own traffic jam within the small town. It has gotten so severe that many residents have found themselves stuck in their driveways.
"In the morning, if I sign onto my Waze account, I find there are 250,000 ‘Wazers’ in the area," Leonia Police Chief Tom Rowe told Hot Hardware. "When the primary roads become congested, it directs vehicles into Leonia and pushes them onto secondary and tertiary roads."
"There are 250,000 ‘Wazers’ in the area [during rush hour]."
If the traffic were a sporadic incident, it might have gone overlooked. However, rush hour on I-80 and I-95 results in traffic backups multiple times a day which causes apps to detour through the suburb.
The problem has resulted in the town closing off around 60 streets and roads in the area to non-resident traffic during rush hour. The rules will be enforced by the issuance of yellow stickers to residents. Anyone driving through town without a yellow sticker during rush hour will be pulled over and cited. The fine for the offense is set at $200.
The law has not gone into effect yet so if you shortcut through Leonia, you have until January 22 to find an alternate route.
"Would I prefer not to do this? Of course," noted Rowe. "But I would rather try something and fail than not try anything."
A spokesperson for Waze said it would cooperate with the town and work to find substitute paths through the area.
"If a road is legally reclassified into a private road, our map editors will make that change," said Waze. "It is our goal to work holistically with our community of drivers, map editors, and city contacts to improve the driving experience for all."