Google Maps will now alert you to speed traps as you drive — but its chances of success are limited

Traffic cops in India's national capital, New DelhiIANS

  • Google Maps’ newest feature for the app in India is an alert for upcoming speed traps.
  • India, being the seventh largest country in the world, doesn’t have a full-proof camera system yet.
  • The feature could potentially be misused as drivers would only slow down for the cameras before picking up speed again.
Update: Google Maps is also rolling out a feature that allows users to report accidents and upcoming speed traps.

Google’s ambitious plans now include integrating alerts for speed limits and speed cameras onto its Google Maps app. In India, the speed the limit option won’t be available. But, drivers will still be alerted to speed traps and speed cameras on their route.

This is happening in a country where traffic violations are considered as some of the worst in the entire world. The installation of speeding cameras is one of the primary ways that the government is trying to deter the incidence of speeding on the roads.

So far, technology has empowered the move to make roads safer in India. But the new Google Maps feature could potentially give speeding driver a way to skirt the law.

To speed or not to speed

As you’re driving down the road, if your phone suddenly bleeps, is because Google Maps is alerting you to an upcoming speed camera.

This feature has been in the works over five years now. User have been wondering if Google was going to do it at all since it acquired Waze, a crowdsource-powered navigation app, back in 2013 for $1 billion.

It was only late last year that Google integrated the option for users to report a speed trap to the app.

Technology-wise it’s a great move — but in India, where over 50,000 challans (fines) were issued over the span of two months to drivers on just one stretch of the highway, there are a few concerns that come to mind.

Since the rollout of speed cameras, the cops better understand the ground-reality. Rather than ‘riding without a helmet’ topping the list of violations in India, it’s speeding.

Some might argue that being aware of speed cameras could actually bring down the overall incidences of speeding. But, in India, speed cameras aren’t a universal phenomenon and are sparsely located, or only where a large set of accidents have been reported. Chances are the drivers will only slow down for the camera before picking up speed again.

The new feature hasn’t rolled out yet, but should be reflected in the Google Maps app soon. You won’t even need to physically update the app because the roll out will happen via a server-side switch.

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