This Low Tech Grandma is blazing a new trail by learning how to use the WAZE app. It’s a freely available turn-by-turn navigation app. I feel like I’m in the big league now. The WAZE navigation app helped me to navigate a 933-mile road trip. WAZE not only got me to my destination and back, but it also provided me with close to real-time information regarding traffic slowdowns, construction, police activity and more.
My Sad Pre-WAZE GPS Beginnings
I’m really putting myself on blast by admitting that it took me well over a year to realize my smartphone had a build in GPS app. If I had realized it had a built-in GPS app, I never would have purchased (yes I did say purchase) the Sygic app. I wrote about my experience with Sygic some time ago. You see, I thought I had to purchase a device like Garmin or TomTom to enjoy the benefits of turn-by-turn GPS navigation.
When I came across the Sygic app, I used the free trial version and then purchased the premium app (boy was I ever green). Back then I didn’t even install the app on my phone. Instead, I downloaded it to my Samsung tablet because the tablet had a larger screen. I propped the tablet between the front bucket seats and used it to reach my destination (not without many incorrect programmings and wrong turns).
I remember having conversations with other equally clueless folks in my age group about using GPS navigation. They were under the same impression as I was, “What about your data usage?” That was the big concern. We were all concerned about going over our allotted data limits. This particular app didn’t use data so I thought I was onto something. Little did I know apps like Google Maps and WAZE did not affect data limits.
The Youth Shall Teach the Old
My daughter, finding out the odd set up I was using, advised me about Google Maps Still awkward for me to use (yes, I’m very old school), I fiddled around with it long enough to get it to work. She had to ride shotgun to make sure I had things programmed right. I eventually graduated to solo trips and felt comfortable using Maps.
WAZE App an Upgrade from Google Maps
The youth taught the old again! My daughter used the WAZE app over in the UK. Not only did WAVE give turn-by-turn navigation from point A to point B, but it also alerted her to police speed check positions. Of course, the police positioning doesn’t mean a thing to me. I’m not concerned about speeding 😉 , but notifications such as traffic jams, construction, red light cameras and stopped cars on the shoulder were nice to know.
How the WAZE App Works
The WAZE app works because of its community of users. Fellow Wazers report on road conditions as they experience them. Of course, it’s not the actual driver, but the passenger riding with the driver. The Waze app frowns upon texting while driving and has incorporated a pop up warning against it. Drivers may not report road conditions while driving, only passengers.
Each road condition report is time stamped to help other drivers navigate. For example, if a driver comes across a traffic jam on Main Street at 4:32 pm, and reports it. The report is time stamped. Now a fellow driver approaches the Main Street location at 5:03 pm. He sees the notification and realizes the congestion occurred about a half hour ago. The arriving driver can either give a thumbs up that the condition is still congested or click on the negative icon indicating that road conditions are clear.
Same goes for police activity. There are times when police activity (speed traps) are reported, but by the time you reach the reported destination, there’s nothing to be found.
According to the WAZE website, there’s a feature for cheap gas reporting. However, I believe that feature has been removed because I couldn’t find it.
Small WAZE App Hiccup
We had a tiny hiccup at the beginning of our trip. We attempted to plot the entire course, but there was a server problem. The routing server timed out. On this particular trip, it wasn’t a big problem. The server became available again about 70 miles into the trip.
While I do enjoy the turn-by-turn navigation that GPS programs provide, I still keep an old-fashioned map as a backup.
Controversy over WAZE and Apps Like It
There is much controversy over apps like this because it purportedly encourages texting while driving. Personally, I feel texting drivers don’t need such apps to encourage them to text and drive. They’re going to do it anyway.
I have very strong feelings about texting and driving. No one is that important where it can’t wait until you pull over to the side of the road. I guess it’s because I grew up in an era where cell phones didn’t exist. Better yet, when I was young answering machines didn’t exist. If you didn’t reach the person by phone on the first try, you had to call back again and again. You kept calling until you reached them. As such, I haven’t found anything that couldn’t wait until I was in a safe location to either talk or text.
Texting and driving bring to mind a quote from the philosopher Plato:
“good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”
It also reminds me of an article I wrote for my son many years ago. He was upset about the “stupid” rules being enforced at his school. I am no way as eloquent or succinct as Plato, but my son understood once he finished reading the article How High is Your Bar?