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Commuting with Waze

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Written by: Andrew Connnely

I tend to wake up early, stay up late, and work long hours. Add in spending time with family and running personal errands, and my days are pretty busy. With such a full schedule, the last thing I have time for is wasting time in traffic.

Most of us try and make our commutes more efficient with navigation applications such as Google Maps, or Waze. If you’ve ever used these, you will know that they aren’t always as efficient, up to date, or correct as they could be.

In the case of Waze, while commuting, drivers occasionally get alerts, letting them know when the app has calculated a quicker route. This is a great feature for those of us looking to save time. The problem is that this does not happen often. The reason is unclear, but it could have to do with Waze not wanting to distract drivers while driving.

Most of my commute is surface streets (as opposed for expressways), and I encounter my fair share of red lights. Thus, I had a few seconds for a little experiment with Waze and I decided to try something throughout my commute home.  Instead of waiting for Waze to automatically find new or better routes to your destination, what if you forced Waze to do it?

First, a public service announcement:  For the sake of safety and the rest of us on the road, I must first caution you to never use your phone while driving. Not only is it unsafe, but many states, like mine, actually have laws against it. Also, at red lights, make sure you aren’t “that person” looking at their phone when the light turns green. Nobody likes “that person”.

To try this, I placed my phone in the dash-mounted phone cradle.  At the beginning of my commute, I would select the route that Waze deemed the quickest.  Make a note of the estimated arrival time to your final destination.

Then, at each red light (which would usually be every few miles), I would press two buttons – the first is “Routes” from the bottom panel, then I would select the new, quickest route.

This would basically force Waze to re-analyze the changing traffic conditions every 4-7 minutes and, many times, spit out a new route. The goal is to improve upon the Waze quickest route’s estimated arrival time. In the first week I tried this, I saved between 5 and 10 minutes per commute, which is significant considering my commute is between 40 and 60 minutes, depending on traffic.

We already use Waze to save time and avoid the ways home that have congestion. This alone probably saves us time each week. Why not use Waze in a more efficient way and save even more time? Because, really, who has time to stare at brake lights?

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