Google has been slugging it out with Apple for years over their widely used mapping services. When people are heading to a location they have never been to before, Google’s street view has been a real winner. Few of us have not made use of the service to find the new address of a friend or to work out the best place to park in a busy town centre before getting behind the wheel, for example. That said, using a digital service while driving is not always the most responsible thing a driver can do unless they can operate it in a hands-free manner. Indeed, some countries are making the rules of the road stricter when it comes to using digital technology. For example, the UK has introduced fines for using your phone behind the wheel. Surely, we’d all love to sit back and gamble at our favourite online casino on our smartphones, but it’s definitely wiser to do so at home rather than when you ought to be concentrating on the road ahead.
Interestingly, Google is now implementing a new feature that is designed to be used in a way that won’t mean you take your eyes off the road. It will inform users of the speed limit they are currently supposed to be sticking to, something that is designed to enhance safety. What’s more, the service will alert drivers to traffic cameras that are coming up on the road they are driving. Although this should make it a lot easier to follow the rules of the road, some question if drivers will use the technology in a completely responsible way.
The Development of Speed Camera Alerts in Google Maps
Firstly, it should be said that Google Maps’ speed camera alerts are nothing new. What has happened as of January 2019 is that Google has rolled out its service to much wider areas, including the United States and the UK. Google first introduced the ability to see speed limits and be alerted of the proximity of speed cameras in it maps back in July 2017. This only worked, however, if you happened to be driving in and around the San Francisco Bay area in California or in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Essentially, Google is now rolling out these pilot programmes because the tech giant has deemed them to be a success. Thanks to those two schemes, anyone with the Google Maps app installed on their smart device will be able to make use of the feature much closer to home. All that users will need to do is to download the latest version of their app and the speed camera alerts will automatically work when the mapping service is in use. Once switched on, you don’t need to touch your phone or tablet to make use of the service. This means that, in theory, you will have a digital co-driver who is there to help you stick to the rules of the road. Just as pre-programmed journeys will advise you which lane to get into and which exits to take on your trip, so Google Maps will notify you of upcoming speed cameras.
How Can Drivers Make Use of Speed Camera Alerts?
Drivers who have a digital display in their vehicle can use the new service with their connected device. For example, you can use it with Apple’s CarPlay app, if wanted. The service works in much the same way as speed camera alerts that are found in rival satellite navigation services do, such as those developed by Waze and Garmin. Whether you have Google Maps installed on an iPhone or an Android device, it will function in just the same way, informing you that a permanently installed speed camera is on the road you are travelling along.
Some say that the service allows drivers to speed along and only slow down when they know that a speed camera is coming up. For this reason, this sort of technology is outlawed in France. However, the technology has been widely available in the UK for some time, notably from the AA. The big difference is that Google is not charging a subscription fee for these sorts of alerts whereas competitor systems tend to. Bear in mind, too, that mobile speed camera traps are not accounted for by these systems so drivers really ought to stick to the speed limit anyway.
Google has collated data for the locations of speed cameras in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, India, Russia and Indonesia thus far. In addition, there is information for drivers on locals speed limits – even where there are no cameras installed – for drivers in the UK, the US and Denmark.