Waze: Great Traffic and Navigation App, But How Many Accidents Has It Caused?

[ A reporter for Channel 4 in the U.K. tests out Waze in Israel -- as a passenger. ]

We all know driving while doing anything can be distracting. Try driving while using Waze, an app that lets you see traffic reports from other Waze users, chart a route based on traffic and chat with drivers nearby. 

Founded in Israel in 2008, Waze has over 8M users in 45 countries (though it works best in places with high concentrations of active Wazers, as Robert Scoble recently noted). Last month the company raised $30M from Horizon Ventures Hong Kong and Kleiner Perkins.

Now, Waze doesn't want you to drive and report on traffic at the same time, as it emphasizes in its terms of use (more on those in a moment). When you open the app, it prompts you to confirm that a passenger in the car is using it. But someone is likely to report traffic -- and therefore use the app -- when they're not in a carpool lane, which means they're alone. We'd bet most solo Wazers override this safety check.

And don't forget that people can use Waze to chat with other drivers on the road, which is essentially texting while driving. Over 30 states, including California, have banned that behind-the-wheel activity.

We want to know many car accidents have happened because the driver was using Waze. LAUNCH's home state of California is home to legendary traffic jams and geeks, so we checked California Highway Patrol data. All we found is that 116 people died in distracted-driving incidents in 2009 and 17K were injured.

If someone had an accident while Wazing and blamed Waze, what would Waze do? Would the company find itself in an Airbnb-like situation?

The terms of use state that Waze is not liable for traffic accidents or traffic penalties, but that wouldn't stop someone in the U.S. from suing. Wazers should know, however, that their relationship with Waze is "governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Israel, without regard to its principles of conflict of laws. You and Waze agree to submit to the personal and exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located in Tel Aviv, Israel and waive any jurisdictional, venue, or inconvenient forum objections to such courts."

If you or someone you know has had an accident while Wazing, please contact us at tips at launch dot is (you can remain anonymous) or answer this question on Quora.


Website: http://www.waze.com/
Twitter: @Waze
Blog: http://www.waze.com/blog/
iPhone app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/waze-gps-traffic-social-fun!/id323229106?mt=8

Noam Bardin, CEO
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/noambardin
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/noamb11
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