Waze traffic app draws concerns


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Sheriffs said Wednesday that Google’s popular Waze traffic app is making it harder to nab speeders, adding to earlier police complaints that a feature in the software that lets drivers warn others about nearby police activity is putting officers’ lives at risk.

The National Sheriffs’ Association had previously focused its campaign against Waze on police safety after the fatal shootings of two New York police officers in December. It broadened its campaign with a new statement criticizing Google’s software as hampering the use of speed traps. The trade association said radar guns and other speed enforcement techniques have reduced highways deaths.

“This app will hamper those activities by locating law-enforcement officers and puts the public at risk,” the group said.

In the Waze app, which operates like a free GPS navigation tool, users can tag the locations of parked police vehicles, accidents, congestion, traffic cameras, potholes and more, so that other drivers using Waze are warned as they approach the same location.

In a twist, the newly expressed concern about speeding is also Google’s own defense of its software.

“Most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby,” Waze spokeswoman Julie Mossler said.

Waze gained popularity in the past week since The Associated Press first disclosed law enforcement’s concerns, climbing four positions to No. 8 on Apple’s ranking of top free mobile apps.

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