Turn-by-turn navigation app Waze, which provides drivers with the quickest route based on live updates from its users, has attracted the wrath of the world’s second-biggest metropolitan police force.
The New York Police Department is promising to pursue “all legal remedies” to block a certain function on the Google-owned app, which is also available in Australia and allows people to warn other users of locations where police are present.
StreetsBlog, a New York City news site has reported that the NYPD’s Acting Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Ann Pruty sent a cease-and-desist letter to Google, citing concerns that Waze allows drink drivers to avoid detection.
“The NYPD has become aware that the Waze Mobile application ... currently permits the public to report DWI (driving while intoxicated) checkpoints throughout New York City and map these locations," Commissioner Pruty stated, according to StreetsBlog.
“Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws,” the letter further stated.
“The posting of such information for public consumption is irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving. Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers, and the general public at risk.
“The NYPD will pursue all legal remedies to prevent the continued posting of this irresponsible and dangerous information.”
While Waze does allow users to report speed cameras and speed traps such as radar (which curiously the NYPD doesn't have an issue with) it doesn’t allow for the specific reporting of breath testing checkpoints, with Apple and Google previously rejecting apps that were more specific.
A Google spokesperson has all but said the tech-giant won’t be heeding the NYPD’s demands, telling TheVerge.com: “We believe that informing drivers about upcoming speed traps allows them to be more careful and make safer decisions when they’re on the road.”
Australian police reaction
Surprisingly, as Waze becomes increasingly popular in Australia, there has been no reported push back from local authorities yet, even in Victoria, which has one of the country’s least tolerant approaches when it comes to road safety.
A Victoria Police spokesperson told WhichCar the locations of all fixed road safety cameras are already publically available and that it acknowledges that this encourages motorists to slow down ultimately reducing road trauma.
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As for revealing the location of police officers, radars or booze buses, he said: “It must also be remembered that just because you think you know where police are located, doesn't mean you won't get caught. The deployment of police and or where they patrol, complements a range of enforcement and operational tactics. The message is simple – police can be anywhere so don't take the risk.”
The New South Wales Police Force has a similar line, with a spokesperson telling WhichCar: “NSW Police have an ‘anywhere, anytime’ philosophy. Community members should not rely on information that may not be right. They should rely on their sense of personal responsibility and complying with the road rules 24/7.”