Traffeek allows people to create live traffic reports while they are on the move
It’s always good to see people coming up with new apps and in New Zealand the NZ Transport Agency is trying to encourage developers to come up with new solutions and I’m interested to see where this goes with both my NZTA and my SoLoMo hats on.The following statements are my personal opinions only.
The obvious questions were asked straight away in this story, which are:
1. It is illegal to use your mobile while driving and could cause an accident. The same applies with TomTom, Waze or any other device. If you were to have an accident while entering data on your mobile or your car navigation unit, you could be charged with some form of dangerous driving while distracted.
It isn’t illegal to tick a box, for example when my TomTom PND (dedicated Portable Navigation Device) finds a quicker route and asks me if I want to change to it. But again if I started doing some serious data entry, for example sending a correction through to TomTom, saying the road they sent me up is now blocked off, or has a turn restriction on it, and I had an accident, I’m sure I would risk prosecution. If I didn’t have an accident and my driving behaviour remained safe and within the law, I suspect that I wouldn’t be breaking any laws.
I suspect if I was ticking a box on a car navigation application on my mobile and had an accident and a zealous Police Officer wanted to charge me, it would make an interesting test case. If I was distracted and had an accident, it would be no different to changing the station on my car stereo.
However, if I was entering an incident into an app on my iPhone, even if it was the TomTom car navigation app that would be legal to use on a PND, it may well be that this would fall under the laws pertaining to using a phone. This becomes quite interesting if you consider this in relation to the blog I wrote yesterday where it was being postulated by some that Smartphones will replace dedicated car navigation devices. If one is legal to use while driving and the other isn’t (depending on circumstances) then maybe this is another argument to stick with my TomTom device. With a smartphone it is very hard to prove which app you were using unless you had an app which disabled the functions of the phone, e.g. making it not possible to send a TXT message while driving.
2. There are already applications like WAZE which allow you to be warned of incidents ahead (down here it is mostly used to warn people that there is a cop with a radar ahead, which I’m not that excited about, because I’d rather people weren’t speeding). Given they already exist, I’m interested to know why Traffeek recreated the wheel. Do they have features that Waze doesn’t have?
One of the frustrations I have with Waze is that it really encourages crowd-sourced participation and pretty much any time there is something happening where I would need to participate, for example reporting an incident, confirming an incident still exists, correcting the location of an incident, you are in a position where you can’t safely, or it is illegal to stop the car. I believe this is why many incidents are reported in the incorrect location, because they show the location where the incident was reported, i.e. the location where the car was when you could finally report it.
So if Traffeek has been developed because they feel they can do a better job, fantastic. I’m keen to understand how they can manage the inherent problems with the existing systems, other than through a call center or some form of hands-free control.
These are not criticisms, but genuine questions as I am working with a number of other organizations who also have or wish to develop mobile apps around helping road users avoid incidents, events and congestion, safely.
I’m keen on any and all feedback.