New Waze updates tackle roundabouts, speed limit changes, and other road surprises

Waze is rolling out six new updates to help you navigate the road more safely. Here's what to expect and when.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Waze app on iPhone
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

How often have you faced some type of obstacle or challenge while driving and didn't quite know how to handle it? Even with a navigation app guiding you, driving can be a difficult and demanding task, especially when you encounter something unexpected. To try to make your life behind the wheel a bit easier, Waze has unveiled a series of updates with safety in mind.

The six new updates are designed to help you manage specific difficulties on the road from roundabouts to emergency vehicles to speed bumps. Nestled in the Waze app, some of the updates are rolling out around the world to Android users in March and to iOS users later this year, though most should arrive sooner.

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First on the list are tricky roundabouts. We've all likely driven into an unfamiliar roundabout not knowing how to navigate it or or where to exit. With tips from other Waze drivers, you'll be able to more clearly see when to enter, which lane to use, and where to exit.

Next up are emergency vehicles. We know that we need to give leeway to ambulances, fire engines, and other such vehicles. But that speeding emergency vehicle with lights flashing and sirens blaring can still catch us off guard.

With this second update, you'll be alerted ahead of time when an ambulance is stopped along your route. Based on info from Waze for Cities partners, this update is available now to people on Android and iOS in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with more countries coming soon.

The third update tackles speed limit changes. Even with the speed limit displayed in your navigation app, knowing when and where the limit changes can be tricky. In this case, you'll start seeing alerts when a speed limit is about to go lower so you can prepare to slow down. This update will reach Android and iOS users sometime this month.

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With the fourth update described, Waze will alert you to more types of obstacles. The app already warns you about potholes, railroad crossings, and bad weather. Now, fellow drivers will be able to caution you about sharp curves, speed bumps, and toll booths. This one is rolling out in March to Android and iOS users around the world.

How often have you struggled to find a parking garage in a crowded city? Thanks to the fifth update on the list, you'll be able to find specific details about parking garages ahead of time.

With help from the parking management system Flash, Wave will tell you the cost of the parking, if the garage is covered, if it's wheelchair accessible, if there are valet options, and if EV charging stations are available. You'll also be able to prebook your parking spot from the Waze app.

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The new parking information will roll out to Android and iOS users in the next few weeks. The info will pop up for more than 30,000 garages across the U.S. and Canada in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Montreal.

Finally, the sixth update will give you more control over which route you want to take. In some cases, you may prefer to follow a specific route to home or work, even if it isn't the fastest one as suggested by Waze. To help you, the app will display information about your favorite routes, including live traffic updates and delays. The goal is to let you compare your favorite routes with ones offered by Waze to see which will work better. This update is headed for Android and iOS users this month.

The updates all come from insights offered by local Waze drivers, community members, and municipal partners, Waze said in a blog post on Tuesday. And that points to the value of Waze. As a crowdsourced navigation app, it relies on the input and observations of fellow drivers to warn you of specific conditions ahead of you.

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