Now when you’re driving on unfamiliar roads, or perhaps find yourself somewhere where the speed limit isn’t clearly posted, you can set up alerts for when you’re moving too fast. Though the feature will be landing globally “soon,” at launch it will only be available in 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, and Uruguay.
You’ll see the Waze speedometer on your mobile screen, and if you exceed the speed limit, an alert will blast across the screen until you drop down into the legal zone. You can also tailor the notifications so that you receive alerts when you hit the limit or when you go a pre-determined percentage over the limit.
Founded out of Israel in 2007, Waze has built a solid reputation for the way it lets users share real-time traffic data, which is what prompted Google to acquire the company for more than $1 billion back in 2013. Other navigation apps, such as Here and Garmin, have offered speed alerts for a while, but what’s perhaps most notable about this launch is that Waze’s parent company has hitherto omitted such a useful feature from its widely used flagship navigation app, Google Maps.
There are a number of ways to garner data for the feature. Waze says that it tapped its volunteer community to input and verify speed limits. But it would be difficult to scale such a feature manually across millions of streets, which is why the core data is likely collected passively. This means that by looking at the average speed at which users are traveling along a given road Waze can make a reasonably sound guess as to what the speed limit is. And Waze will no doubt have Google’s own navigation data at its disposal too, making it more likely to be accurate.
Why Google Maps itself doesn’t offer speed alerts is up for debate, but this feature by Waze adds to a burgeoning list of useful tools it has implemented in recent times, including calendar integration and departure alerts for planned drives.