For the love of Waze

I love Waze. I've tried other navigation solutions: Google Maps, Apple Maps, and a number of built-in flavors, but for my driving needs and neuroses Waze is the way to go. However, like any significant other, Waze has its flaws. I don't mean to bitch, but I just have to get this off my chest.

Men are from Mars, Waze is from Neptune.

The biggest problem I have with Waze is that we just think differently. Sometimes it can be so simple minded with its 'fastest route' approach. I've figured it out though, I know how Waze can change so that we can stay together forever. It's pretty simple, I've broken it down for Waze, so that our relationship can blossom till death do us part.

I HATE TRAFFIC and I assume that you do too... I leave for work at 5:45am just so I don't have to sit in traffic... I hate it more than I love sleep.

Time isn’t everything

I know it's a lot to ask, but I don’t always want the fastest route on my commute home, most often I want the route with the least agony.
(Inspired by Hipmunk's default order for travel results).

Hipmunk Agony

My commute home has 3 main routes: between the mountains, over a mountain, or on the highway, and the distance in miles for each increases in that order. Typically the 'between the mountains' route takes 27 mins and is 8 miles, the 'over the mountain' route takes 28 mins and is 11.9 miles, the 'highway' route takes about 42 mins and is 13.8 miles. Waze will always tell me to go the 'between the mountains' route, unless the time is longer then the 'over the mountain' route, which makes perfect sense if TIME is the factor.

SIDEBAR I hate traffic. Let me make this clearer with some formatting. ==**I HATE TRAFFIC**== and I assume that you do too, because it F#@*king sucks. I leave for work at 5:45am just so I don't have to sit in traffic, and I don't need to be there until 9am! That is how much I hate traffic; I hate it more than I love sleep.

Be smarter than the others

It's no secret that UPS has software that custom plans routes so that their delivery vehicles make more right turns, which saves the company over $300 million in fuel per year.[^1] Is it really that hard for Waze to up its game too? In addition to reducing left turns, within reason, how about considering the quantity of traffic lights on a route, or if the road has more than one lane in each direction so I can pass folks who just love sticking to the speed limit?

I assume that Waze uses the crowd-sourced data in real-time to calculate the current traffic, but do they predict traffic using historical traffic patterns? I know it seems like I have high expectations, but we spend an average of 26 mins commuting each way (according to the 2014 US Census data), which is over 200 hours a year, or about 9 days. If you're like me and live in Seattle, then it's worse, and I hope you take advantage of mass transit for the sake of your sanity. (Commuting is the reason I have a deep relationship with Waze in the first place.)

Think more like I do

When I consider which route to take home, I do some quick back of the mental napkin math, partly because I suck at math, and because trying to write on a napkin while driving is harder than driving stick with a sandwich and a big gulp. Here's what goes through my brain:

  • Which route is the fastest?
  • Is there a slightly longer route with a similar time that has less potential bottle necks, traffic lights, and more opportunities to pass?
  • Do I need to pee? If so, where would I pee along the way if traffic halted due to a Sasquatch sighting?
  • Is the weather nice enough for me to drive a twisty road with the roof down? (very important to reduce agony)

What I classify as agony is probably a little different from you, but at least the first two are measurable outside of my twisted mind. If you consider my route options above, and do derive the average speed of each route we start see how this could work, especially when compared to the speed limit of each road on the route. Here's some simple math that even I can grasp:

Distance (miles) / time (hrs) = Avg. Speed

We'll divide the time each journey takes by 60 to convert mins to hours.

Between the mountains:

avg posted limit 35 mph

8 miles / (27 mins / 60) = 17.8 mph
Difference in speed - 17.2 mph

Over the mountain:

avg posted limit 40 mph

11.9 miles / (28 mins / 60) = 25.5 mph
Difference in speed - 14.5 mph


avg posted limit 50 mph

13.8 miles /(42 mins / 60) = 19.7 mph
Difference in speed - 30.3 mph


You don't need to be a genius (I'm not) to see that the 'over the mountain route' comes out on top, and though the highway gives me a higher average speed, it's still going to take me 42 mins. Comparing the results to the average posted speed limit can be a little misleading, in part because speed limits change along the route, and also because there's a nuance to going 45 mph on a tightly packed highway versus 35 mph on a single lane tree-lined back road. I'll leave that one to the programmers at Waze to solve.

I still love you...

Waze, honey, I know you're reading this. You look at my calendar to see what I'm doing, so I know that you're reading this. You mean a lot to me, and if it wasn't for you, I'd be stuck in traffic with Apple Maps. I know I have some stuff to work on too.

An Ode to Waze Commuting is getting old, My sanity's hard to hold. Where is my eisenhower, When 10 miles takes an hour? Oh bring me some relief, Steal away my grief. I'll make it home this day, When you are here to stay.

[^1]: When Left is Right *UPS Pressroom* - [](

Darcy Stalport

A user experience designer with a passion for cars, design, and great interface. He's particularly critical of the car you drive and the interface in it.

Seattle, WA