Waze Says No Accidents Despite 8M Users

[ Image courtesy of geograph.org.uk via creative commons license. ]

With 8M registered users driving on the road using Waze, LAUNCH editors posed a question to our readers yesterday, and then to the highly engaging traffic app, regarding car accidents while Wazing. We were relieved to find out that so far, not one user has reported an accident to Waze.
"There are no records of anyone getting into accidents," Waze Senior Director of Communication Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski tells LAUNCH. "Safety is a huge concern. We're lucky so far that no one has come to us saying that Waze caused them to have an accident. It would be awful."

We wonder if someone would report the accident to Waze or if it would show up on police reports. From what LAUNCH editors have been able to find, official statistics only get as specific as reporting cell phone involvement.

We're obsessing over Waze because based on our study of usage in Los Angeles, people use it to chat with other drivers on the road. In our experience, it's not uncommon to see 50 people on I-405 or I-10 chatting with each other. 

Michal admits that the app could be dangerous, but notes that there are numerous other elements that could distract drivers on the road, such as fiddling with the radio or eating. 

"We don't recommend someone driving unsafely," Michal says. "We have passenger mode that disables the keyboard."

The passenger mode kicks in if you're driving over 5 mph, prompting you to let a passenger navigate.

Distracted driving accidents accounted for 20% of injury crashes in 2009, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation. That year, distracted driving accidents led to 5,574 deaths and roughly 448K injuries.

Waze is currently working on integrating voice control into the app. "We're trying to optimize the hands-free operation in the app without taking away from the experience," Michal says. 

Michal says they would like to integrate Siri into the app, but doesn't know how long they would have to wait for Apple to allow it. 

Uri Levine, Amir Shinar and Ehud Shabtai founded Waze in 2008. To date, the company has raised $50M from investors including Blue Run Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital.