Speed Reads

Our apps, our lives

Driving app causes traffic jam in California neighborhoods

The popular new smartphone app Waze, which shows drivers the shortest route to their destinations, has transformed a once-quiet Los Angeles suburb into a bastion of angry, outspoken residents.

The Associated Press reports that in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, Waze started sending people through a narrow Sherman Oaks street, which parallels the busiest freeway in America.

"The traffic is unbearable now," said Paul Hamilton, a resident of the neighborhood nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. "You can't even walk your dog."

The people of Sherman Oaks said they would outsmart the app by reporting phony car crashes and traffic jams on their streets that would keep the shortcut-seekers away. However, Waze spokeswoman Julie Mossler said the app can't be outsmarted.

"With millions of users in LA, fake, coordinated traffic reports can't come to fruition because they'll be negated by the next 10 people that drive down the street passively using Waze," Mossler said.

Mossler added that most people threatening to disrupt Waze's ability to function with false claims never actually would do so. In fact, she said, none of the people interviewed in the AP story admitted to doing it.

Neighborhood residents have spoken to city officials about possibly putting in four-way stops and speed bumps, but a neighborhood traffic study would have to be completed first.