By on January 24, 2019

The next time you use Google Maps to plan a road trip, you might notice some changes. Maps is now providing live updates on posted speed limits across the United States. Previously, this feature was only available in San Francisco. However, other parts of the country started seeing the feature crop up late last week as Google updated local servers.

This author saw changes on the app as early as January 18th. Travelling a bit too far from major metropolitan hubs or major highways has proven coverage has not yet gone nationwide. Google says it hopes to soon remedy that by implementing the service across the United States, United Kingdom, and select parts of mainland Europe. Of course, if you don’t want to wait, Waze (also owned by Google) has had this feature available for years, and remains the more robust navigation platform. 

With the new speed limit feature, drivers using Google Maps will see the posted speed limit of the road they’re driving on appear in the lower left side of the app — regardless of if they’re using Android Auto or not. Speed traps are highlighted by a small camera icon and shown clearly on the map. AndroidPolice, which announced the update before Google had the chance, also cites reports that Maps will provide an audible warning for drivers approaching a speed trap, though we didn’t notice this while maintaining the posted limit and found the service to be rather inconsistent. The app may only warn you if it thinks you’re coming in too hot.

Google has been on a quiet quest to make Maps as good as Waze, so expect more shared features to debut over the coming months. As the easiest-to-use popular navigation interface, any updates to Google Maps are welcome. However, for those still looking to get the most up to date information about the surrounding area, Waze is likely to remain the superior tool for some time.

[Image: Google]

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20 Comments on “Google Maps Finally Tracking Speed Limits, Speed Traps...”

  • avatar

    On the National Motorists Association site under Resources, there is a database of driver-reported speed traps. Those that show multiple numbers of reports are more likely to be real and operated frequently.

  • avatar

    Waze is fantastic.

    Definitely has saved me some money.

  • avatar

    Finally – I had asked for the speed limit feature in the Feedback section of the app, months ago. Since Waze had it already, and is owned by Google, I figured it was a no-brainer. And it’s something that Garmin has had on its GPS devices (a speed limit sign, like a highway sign) for years.

    I haven’t seen it yet on Google Maps – does it show the speed limit on the screen, like Waze does?

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      When it works, yes. It’s relatively consistent in built-up areas around New York City with the posted limit appearing in the bottom corner. However, I noticed the feature drop out frequently as I ventured into the less populated areas of New Jersey.

      I expect that to improve over the coming months. But, if you live in a rural area, you might be the last one to get the update.

  • avatar

    I want to like Waze, but it takes forever to launch, and I’m not crazy about the map layout and all the blobby characters. Plus it makes me nervous, the idea that thousands of drivers are on their phones while they’re driving, adding inputs.

    • 0 avatar

      Waze can be glitchy at times for sure… but when it comes to traffic and speed traps its shines. The main problems I have with are: 1) it often has old information like a delay from 45 mins ago but the road is clear now. 2) the GPS gets confused, it assumes you are following its path so if you make a wrong turn it updates a step behind. 3) its pretty bad at “last mile” type events, IE: parking. For example my building has 3 entrances, if I enter at the side or back it tells me to turn around and go to the front despite the parking lot surrounding the building. I’ve had it tell me address was on the wrong side of the street too. 4) it sometimes comes up with really odd routes, for example a minor slowdown on a main road sends you thru a maze of residential streets. Between stop signs, lower speed limits and constant turns I find it hard to believe that saves time over stop-n-go for just a few blocks.

      For pure directions Google Maps is better as it even tells you which lane to be in when exiting highways with multiple ramps. Apple Maps isn’t bad in this regard either. Google Maps wins an extra point as it switches to the local units, for example you get km in Puerto Rico and Canada vs miles in the USA.

      The built in Nav in my ‘Vette knows the speed limit (for most roads) and will display it in the dash. I found it helpful on long road trips where some interstates go from 70 to 65 for no apparent reason.

      • 0 avatar

        ” I found it helpful on long road trips where some interstates go from 70 to 65 for no apparent reason” – yeah that way you can slow down from 79 to 74 and hope the man doesn’t clock you for 10 over! ;-)

      • 0 avatar

        My feeling is that a map function and a navigation function, while strongly related, are not the same thing. Waze excels at navigation, i.e. get me where I’m going. To that end it surpresses almost all other information. If you want to know, for instance, if there is a parallel route. It aggressively corrects your efforts to browse the map. A map tool, on the other hand, has the functions of making you aware of the entire environment. I find myself, at times, using Waze *and* my car’s nav system to give me both a route view and an environment view.

  • avatar

    I have seen the speed limits pop up in Google Maps for CarPlay, but for now they only work if you’ve input a destination. If you haven’t given a destination, they don’t appear.

    This is kind of annoying, but I imagine that limitation will be gone soon.

    I’m just happy I can get Google Maps on CarPlay (came out with the last iOS update), because Siri is dumber than a box of rocks. (Me: “Take me to the NC Zoo” Siri: “Save a Gato Cat Sanctuary, San Juan, Puerto Rico!” Different session: “Take me to Park West 15 Cinema” “15 Central Park West, New York City!”)

  • avatar

    I love these features. I also want them to be optional, eg, so that I don’t have to have them cluttering up my screen all the time. I actually reverted my Maps back to original Oreo 8.1 style because the newer version had way too much dreck on the screen…I like to see traffic etc around me as I drive up/down the east coast.

  • avatar

    Finally a useful feature added to a widely-used program.

    I don’t want the phone to tell me about being on the fastest route for 15 seconds. I want to see what I’m supposed to do after exiting or the dreaded “continue straight” on the highway, since those can be followed by going across 4 lanes of feeder road traffic to make a right, or 4 lanes of highway traffic to exit within a 1/4-mile.

  • avatar

    My car’s built-in nav system has this feature (less the speed-trap info) – it comes in handy.

    I rented a car this summer that had Android Auto, and I came to really like Google Maps – I prefer the graphics over the factory system in my car. Being able to control music apps through the touchscreen is also a terrific feature.

    • 0 avatar

      Our Sequoia had one of those fancy built-in NAV systems and for all the time we had the car, we never used that NAV system, relying instead on our antique portable Garmin nuvi 42LM.

  • avatar

    I’m a regular Waze user, but calling it “robust” stretches either credulity or the definition of the word.

    You cannot reliably navigate to destinations more than about 2 hours’ drive from your present location. When this does work it typically fails to generate its’ customary top 3 options and their times. Upon startup it almost always attempts to navigate to the destination it thinks you want based on whether you normally travel to home/work from that time/day/location or your Google calendar. Other times it patiently waits for you to tell it to do something, but I cannot discern why it chooses this path vs. preselecting a destination for you. Often on startup the app fails to contact the navigation server and you’re unable to plan a route if only because the server hasn’t woken up that early or because it’s all too slow to keep up with the automagic route selection. Just about every time the app updates itself you must reboot the phone to make the app navigate at all or it will tell you it can’t find your GPS.

    When it works, Waze routes, avoids traffic, and re-routes better than GMaps. Google Maps, however, just about always JUST WORKS.

  • avatar

    My rental car in England last September had this feature. It’s incredibly handy when you’re not a local.

  • avatar

    Another Waze-ism is I’ve seen it get tripped up at a border crossing when there is more than one way to get across, like a bridge and a tunnel. When you get close it sometimes changes its mind a couple times or more.

    I’m still a fan though. Love the real time speed traps and other hazards.

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