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New Local Safety Alerts Are Coming To Traffic-Weary Miami-Dade Waze Users

Cars wait in traffic on Interstate 95

For UN Global Road Safety Week, the app is rolling out a new feature for its local government partners to send drivers safety messages while they're stopped.

The navigation app Waze is adding local safety alerts to coincide with UN Global Road Safety week. Drivers in Miami-Dade County might already notice them popping up on their commutes.

When a vehicle is stopped for 10 seconds or more, like at a stoplight, a message reminding you to drive safely will pop up on your phone. As soon as the car starts moving again, the message disappears.

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Andrew Stober is the head of public partnerships for Waze, which includes the partnership with Miami-Dade County.

"Whether I'm talking to folks in Miami or Mexico City or Milan or Manila, it is all concern about people wearing their seat belts, people speeding, being careful in work zones and keeping their eyes out for people walking and people biking," he said. "So we've launched this program where our public partners are able to put messages right in the Waze app."

Those concerns make up the basis for five key messages that the alerts will center around:

  • Speeding
  • Work zones
  • Pedestrians and bikers
  • Speed
  • And, depending on which side of the road you drive on, alerts to be careful making left or right turns because those are more dangerous when you have to cross over lanes of traffic

The county began its data sharing partnership with Waze in 2016. When users report accidents or crashes, the county can see those reports.

"We're here to help contribute data and information to help policymakers make better decisions," Stober explained.

That philosophy and data sharing partnership continues when it comes to the app tracking driving patterns during the pandemic.

Stober said Waze data show people in South Florida are driving more now, compared to before COVID-19 vaccines started becoming available.

"If you look at parts of the world where the virus is largely under control and the economy is essentially open, places like Sydney, Australia or Singapore, you will see that driving has surged past pre pandemic baselines," said Stober. "And if you look at places where that are starting to open up again, as the vaccine has helped bring the virus under control, in places like London, New York, Miami, you see that driving is is coming back — not quite past pre-pandemic baselines — but the experience in other parts of the world is that driving is going to be happening even more than before the pandemic."

Driving in Miami Beach has already spiked to surpass some pre-pandemic levels.

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Despite people in the U.S. driving less in 2020 because of the pandemic — reports from the nonprofit National Safety Council found traffic deaths increased by 8%.

Waze announced it is also signing on to an initiative by the World Health Organization called "Streets For Life" — that advocates for safer driving speeds and calls on policy-makers to limit speeds to 20 miles per hour on residential streets and local streets where pedestrians and cyclists mix with traffic.

"We're going to need more solutions to help address that traffic that are going to happen at a systemic level," Stober said. "Waze was started as a community project that was about beating traffic. And now we have a much more ambitious goal of eliminating traffic and eliminating deaths on the road."