End of the road for rat-running sat nav apps

sat nav app on mobile phone

If you’re one of the ever-increasing number of people living on a street plagued by rat running, help is at hand.

The European Commission has convinced the sat nav industry to adjust its algorithm to steer motorists away from rat runs. It is hoped the change will protect people in residential streets from the noise, pollution and danger that’s exacerbated by rat running vehicles.

Despite Brexit, the changes to the algorithm by sat nav makers like Tom Tom and app providers such as Google Maps and Waze will also come into force in the UK as the technology is not country-specific.

Google Maps launched a function that considers congestion and topography to offer drivers the lowest-carbon route for their journey. The internet giant’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said  “Travelling by car is one of the more carbon-intensive choices people make on a daily basis. Climate change is no longer a distant threat, it’s increasingly local and personal.”

Rat-running apps ‘ wreaking havoc on our streets’

However laudable the low-carbon routing idea, rat running on residential streets has increased dramatically in the past decade and campaigners have pointed the finger at apps such as Waze, which is owned by Google. With over 38m registered motor vehicles in the UK, many drivers rely on apps to bypass congested roads by taking shortcuts on residential streets.

The charity Living Streets describes apps like Waze as ‘wreaking havoc on our streets’.

A spokesperson told The Guardian: “Traffic jams are popping up on once-quiet residential roads as navigation apps like Waze direct traffic down roads that were never designed to take them.”

Alison Stenning, professor of social and economic geography at Newcastle University, said that many rat-running motorists – whether guided by apps or not – used residential streets to “get from A to B as fast as possible” but did not want heavy traffic and fast cars on their own street. “We have to deal with that disconnect,” she said.

The changes to the sat nav algorithm are expected to be introduced in 2025 or 2026.

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