Waze is slowly putting an end to left turns

Waze understands your anxiety about left turns, and it's going to start doing something about it. The company's offering a new feature in Los Angeles to avoid them.

Waze doesn't like left turns either.

Photo by Waze

It's almost undeniable that left turns are evil.

Not only are poorly-managed left turns responsible for about half a million crashes and hundreds of deaths per year, but they're also inefficient. UPS, the brown-truck delivery company, famously banned left turns for its drivers in 2004, and since then it's avoided unnecessarily burning more than 10 million gallons of gas, cut down on pollution and probably saved lives (and a few fenders too.)

Now Waze, the crowd-sourced traffic app owned by Google, is joining in the anti-left-turn crowd by offering a new feature to Los Angeles drivers. Waze will effectively seek routes that doesn't include a left turn, and when it finds one it will calculate to see whether it will cost more time. If not, you're off to right-turn land. The feature is already available and was announced Friday.

Now, before you get out your pitchforks and scream bloody murder about Silicon Valley's paternalistic "we know better" attitude, users can shut the feature off if they prefer. It'll be in the settings under "Difficult Intersections."

An illustration of how Waze will get you around those evil left turns.

Photo by Waze

And for the rest of us, Waze promises we'll still be occasionally vexed by left turns for the foreseeable future.

"The goal of the feature is to reduce the amount of these intersections, not completely eliminate them," Waze said in its announcement.

Why did it all take so long? Apparently this isn't something a mere computer can figure out. Waze said it worked with Angelenos who often help edit its maps to determine the worst intersections. And since it needs help from locals, the rollout will be pretty slow. New Orleans will be next, though Waze didn't say when.

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