Screen grab from of Waze, a community-based GPS traffic and navigation app.

Waze has unveiled a new feature on its crowd-sourced navigational app to remind drivers when they’ve gone over the speed limit.

If you think that sounds almost exactly like the function your speedometer performs, you’re correct.

The idea – which, a spokeswoman said, arose from user requests – is that Waze will offer you a reminder when you might have drifted over the speed limit or even forgotten what the speed limit is, either because you’re in a new place or you’re on a long stretch of road and there aren’t a lot of signs to remind you what the limit is.

“Whether you’re driving on new and unfamiliar roads or a place where speed limits change with the season, you’ll no longer be in the dark. Waze will keep you aware of your speed, reminding you to slow down and drive safely,” the developers say on their Web site. “To see speed limits you don’t need to change a thing. If you’re driving over the limit, a visual alert will appear on the Waze speedometer. It will stay there until your speed drops below the limit.”

You can also customize the alert to fit your speed habit by setting the alarm to go off at the speed limit or a certain percentage above it.

Waze has come up with a new feature on its community-sourcing app to help you slow down. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

For now, the new feature is available in a bunch of European countries, Latin America, and New Zealand, but it’s on the way to the United States in a city-by-city rollout, Kim Kirchner, a spokeswoman for Waze, said Wednesday. In an email afterwards to update us, she said it’s currently available in Washington, D.C. as well as Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and a dozen other states.

Waze editors are verifying the speed limits as plugged in by its users – a number that has reached 360,000 worldwide. She said it will likely focus at first on longer stretches of road and then smaller segments.

Developers have also been mindful not to make the feature any more of a distraction than the average GPS device, Kirchner said – or, I suppose,  a speedometer. You can also set it up so it has audio alerts.

So be it. It’s not as passive as a speedometer, and there’s nothing wrong with having a machine to do what a backseat driver does. It might even open up a new front in the excuses people can make when they’re in traffic court trying to beat a ticket. But here’s what I want to know: when is Waze going to come up with something even more useful —  namely, an app that tells you where all the speed cameras are?

UPDATE: After the earlier posting, a few Wazers wrote to say that users can already use the app to find out about red light and speed cameras.


In an email and followup interview on the telephone, Wazer spokeswoman Kim Kirchner says users can report red light cameras and may be confusing those with speed
cameras.  But she also says, “We’re working on expanding this feature to include other cameras. . . ” i.e. speed cameras.

I’m not a Wazer–or more accurately, I’ve downloaded it but haven’t used it yet so I can’t say. And,  no, you don’t always have to do the thing or use the thing to write about it….

This article has been updated.