Navigation apps are redirecting traffic congestion into quiet, residential neighborhoods.
Waze app in New Jersey
Credit: The Washington Post / Contributor

A town in New Jersey is taking drastic measures to stop the overflow of traffic created from navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps.

Officials from Leonia will begin doling out $200 fines to morning and afternoon drivers who do not have a yellow tag hanging in their cars to signify that they are local residents, according to the New York Times. Starting in January, the town’s police force will also close 60 streets to all drivers except for residents and people employed in Leonia during the morning and afternoon rushes.

“Without question, the game changer has been the navigation apps,” Tom Rowe, Leonia’s police chief, told the Times. “In the morning, if I sign onto my Waze account, I find there are 250,000 ‘Wazers’ in the area. When the primary roads become congested, it directs vehicles into Leonia and pushes them onto secondary and tertiary roads. We have had days when people can’t get out of their driveways.”

Apps like Waze and Google Maps use real-time traffic updates to redirect drivers from traffic congestion to alternate routes, often found in quiet neighborhoods such as the ones in Leonia. Some residents told the Times that they could not even pull out from their driveways due the influx of cars, making it difficult for them to reach obligations like school and work on time.

“It’s horrific, and it’s all the time,” Melissa Soesman of Leonia told the paper. “They will see that you are trying to get out, but they won’t let you. People are cranky; it’s the morning. By the time they are up here, who knows how long they have been sitting in traffic.”

But Waze has defended the practice, saying that it shares its data with local planners who in turn can update traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic.

“If a road is legally reclassified into a private road, our map editors will make that change,” Waze spokesperson Terry Wei told the Times. “It is our goal to work holistically with our community of drivers, map editors and city contacts to improve the driving experience for all.”