Users are now able to label areas where police watch for those violating the speed limit

By Benjamin VanHoose
October 22, 2019 02:54 PM
Credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty

One new Google Maps option is bound to please drivers, while also causing concern for law enforcement

The new feature, now available on the iOS app, allows users to report and pin locations along their route that hinder the flow of traffic. Those can include construction zones, lane closures, objects obstructing the road, general slowdowns, crashes, broken-down vehicles and — the option receiving the most attention — “speed traps.”

A “speed trap” refers to a spot where a police officer waits out of sight of drivers coming along the roadway to catch anyone breaking the speed limit, typically using radar.

To submit a report, users simply press the “+” button and click “Add a report.”

“This feature has been one of our most popular on Android, and we’re excited to expand it to iOS,” Google Maps project manager Sandra Tseng wrote in an announcement about the update last week. “Google Maps has always helped people get from point A to B in the easiest way possible. Today, we’re adding more tools that reflect real-time contributions from the community so you can stay even more informed when you’re behind the wheel.”

While helpful to drivers not looking to be caught speeding, members of the law enforcement community worry the feature could make it easier for some to commit crimes.

Google Maps
| Credit: Google

Back in February, the New York Police Department wrote a letter to Google asking the company to remove the popular ability from the Waze navigation app, which Google also owns.

“The NYPD has become aware that the Waze mobile application … currently permits the public to report DWI checkpoints throughout New York City and map these locations,” the letter read at the time. “Accordingly, we demand that Google LLC, upon receipt of this letter, immediately remove this function from the Waze application.”

Reporting speed traps on the new Google Maps app does not allow for comments, and there’s no way to specifically label one as a sobriety checkpoint.

NYPD officials told The Washington Post on Monday that they have “engaged in productive discussions with Google to make information available to drivers that will make roads safer and encourage responsible driving, while not impeding the enforcement of New York State Vehicle and Traffic laws.”