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Improving Traffic Safety with Waze User Reports

Current road inspection practices and frequency implemented by road maintenance agencies have not been good enough to be fully aware what is really happening on the roads. Road users’ contribution in road traffic safety is very important to ensure fast reaction to different road hazards. It is important to ensure not only the most common ways to report road hazards on state roads by phone, by email and on social media, but also expand data sources options in a modern and user-friendly way.

The Waze navigation application already had functionality to report road hazards – to warn other application users. But no one acted to solve these road hazards, until someone reported them through existing communication channels to companies responsible for road maintenance and supervision.

To ensure better road traffic safety and faster reaction time to resolve road hazards, the Latvian agency responsible for road maintenance gained access to the Waze report feed, and developed a system for analysing and processing Waze data. As the result, the agency is now able to respond faster to road hazards reported by Waze users. Today, up to 70 % from total reports processed by the agency responsible for road maintenance are generated by Waze.

What motivates you to address the topic of collecting safety information through navigation apps such as Waze and what are your ambitions in this topic?
“Improving traffic safety and possibly saving someone from injury or even death in a possible car accident, is the key reason for collecting safety information through navigation apps such as Waze. The second reason is to use the most effective communication channel for road user’s and proactively improve driving conditions. In the Waze case, a report about the hazards on the road is made to mainly warn other app users; informing authorities is an additional benefit. The third reason is to use modern technologies to achieve better cost-effectiveness of the Road agency’s resources, because the frequency of road inspections is too low to provide a high level of traffic safety.

My ambitions are to show other similar organizations in the world that using available modern technologies and applications to collect traffic safety information is the key for success of improving traffic safety. In our case it is a cost effective and user-friendly solution.”

What are your expectations of the World Meeting? What are you looking forward to most?
“My expectations are that the IRF World meeting will be a great place for knowledge exchange in different transport, mobility and road themes and will gather many world class professionals to share their knowledge, case studies and opinions in discussions. At the IRF World meeting I’m looking forward to hear about interesting case studies or ideas that could be used to improve road maintenance in Latvia. Furthermore, I am hoping to establish useful contacts for the future.”

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About the author:

Raitis Steinbergs is a road engineer with 7 years of experience in road maintenance.

“For the last years I have been working on development projects related to equipment used for daily road maintenance and information technology to improve overall work quality and raise efficiency. Also, I am leading the development of the company’s internal work accounting and cost analysis system.
In 2020 I managed a project to implement mobile road surface condition observation. The project included 10 mobile sensor installations on local freight carrier trucks for winter service purposes, to gain additional awareness about road state in road segments with poor fixed road weather station’s coverage.”

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