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Navigation apps improve commutes, Quinte-area drivers say

The free mobile app Waze gives users a comprehensive and interactive experience of their daily commute. Photo by Thomas Goyer, QNet News

By Thomas Goyer [1]

BELLEVILLE – Interactive navigation apps are making drivers’ rides more comfortable and efficient, some Quinte-area users say.

Smartphone apps like Waze [2] tell users everything going on with their route.

Instead of just giving directions, like the maps apps that come installed on your phone, they show how heavy traffic is, where there are delays due to accidents or construction, and the location of police roadside stops. The information comes from other users who are travelling in the same area. The apps adjust your suggested route based on all that information, and find the fastest way to reach your destination.

Christian Webster of Kingston, a teacher for the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board [3], uses Waze every day on his 25-minute drive to and from his office in Napanee.

“It really helps in relieving some of the stress that travelling and driving can sometimes bring,” Webster told QNet News.

The app allows him to enjoy the drive and not be worried, he added.

Napanee resident Mike Coles, an information technology manager at the Algonquin and Lakeshore school board office, said the community feature of input from other users is important.

“There is the social aspect, where a passenger can report on road conditions, police, construction, etc., which helps warn other drivers,” he said.

Coles learned the hard way how helpful the app can be. He once chose not to trust Waze’s  suggested route and ran into heavy traffic, causing a 15-minute delay in his commute.

The app also analyses the user’s driving. Former Belleville city councillor and transit activist [4] Egerton Boyce, who has been using Waze for over five months, says that feature is important to him.

“I like the reminder if I’m going too fast in zones where the speed has increased or decreased – maybe if I missed a road sign telling me to slow down,” Boyce told QNet News.

But the fact that apps like Waze also alert drivers to the location of police roadside stops has caused controversy [5]. Calls by QNet News to the Belleville Police and Quinte West OPP seeking comment were not returned.