Apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps may make traffic conditions worse in some areas, new research suggests.
In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers’ selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. When there are more app-using drivers, congestion builds up at off-ramps, creating more traffic on the freeway. While it’s clear that traffic on local roads gets worse with the use of these apps, Bayen said that nobody has managed to do a multi-scale analysis that can determine if the apps, even if they create local problems, are better or worse for whole traffic basins.