Shorten Your Commute With the Waze App – (No, really)
Anybody who has to deal with traffic being a large part of their commute, you might want to consider an app called Waze. My attention was recently turned to Waze when I heard it was recently purchased by Google. When I first heard about it, I was skeptical, being a programmer I know that such tasks grow in complexity very quickly, it wouldn’t be easy for a free app to deliver on the promise of shortening my commute.
But, Waze isn’t just another GPS app, it is different from Apple Maps, Google Maps, and my personal favorite, MotionX. It is a social network that allows you to get around traffic jams, speed traps, construction and lots of other hold-ups that steal minutes from your day. Wazers who are connected during their commute share information they are generating by traveling. That information is then provided to my own phone which it will use it to calculate alternative routes and get me around trouble.
I put the app on my phone and then I configured my home and work address. Eager to test it out, I jumped in my car and started going. Waze suggested immediately that I was surrounded by traffic. That’s not going to be a surprise if you live in Chicago. This is when something shocking happened. Waze recommended that I take the immediate alley between my apartment and my neighbor’s apartments. I’ve never done that before, and I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. Taking the first turn from my block usually takes a few minutes, so when I got to the end of my alleyway, I was pleasantly surprised that I could turn without delay. Then, again, it suggested I take another path I never take, Ravenswood from Irving Park, saving me four minutes in just the first two directions.
The savings didn’t stop there. Traveling south on Ashland, I usually face a stupid amount of traffic trying to get on the interstate. Roughly two intersections ahead of heavy traffic, Waze diverted me away to another little known secret, an entrance to the highway I’ve never used before and I didn’t even know it existed. Gitty with excitement, I hurried along, getting on the highway in light traffic and jumping immediately into the third lane, which is nearly impossible on most of my daily commutes. I cruised right along southbound on the Kennedy until I was urged to turn off onto Monroe. I did so, and I feel like this is the only mistake Waze made. I sat through three more stop lights that I could have easily skipped if I had just gotten off at the Jackson exit instead. I gained back a few minutes of my commute.
Overall, I saved seven total minutes of my daily commute, arriving to work in just twenty three minutes. I feel happy knowing that even though I was mistakenly guided to a slow spot by Waze, I don’t have to follow that guidance if I don’t want to. Using my new-found knowledge, I will be getting to work much faster from now on, or at least until other Wazers figure out my secrets and clog my routes again.