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Avoid speed traps: Google Maps on iPhone finally gets Waze's most controversial feature

Now you can report the location of police using radar to catch speeding motorists, as well as six other hazards and slowdowns.

The latest Google Maps update lets iPhone users report road hazards, car accidents and other slowdowns.
Angela Lang/CNET

Millions use Google Maps instead of the default Apple Maps every day on their iPhones ($300 at Amazon) to estimate their commute, plan road trips or otherwise just bum around town. This week, Google finally pushed an update to the Google Maps iOS app that allows those users report road incidents -- like car accidents, speed traps and other obstacles -- right from the iOS app. Google introduced hazard reporting on Android earlier this year, but this is the first time that iPhone owners can also help crowdsource traffic slowdown information on Google Maps. Another mapping app also owned by Google, Wazehas had similar features for years.

Not only is traffic reporting coming to iPhones for the first time, Google is also adding the ability to report four new types of incidents on both iPhone and Android: construction, lane closures, disabled vehicles and objects on the road (like fallen branches or furniture that fell off the back of the truck). 

These, along with crashes, speed traps and slowdowns combine to give Google Maps users seven options when reporting slow traffic flow to the app. Google uses that information, combined with traffic speed and other data, to determine where slowdowns are happening in real time, and to reroute drivers who might experience a delay if they encounter them.

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Here's how you can add your observations to the Google Maps app so that other drivers might avoid a delay, whether you're navigating on an iPhone, iPad ($200 at Best Buy) or Android phone or tablet. Before you submit your first report, however, you'll want to make sure you have the most recent Google Maps update (version 5.29 or later on iOS, 10.27.3 or later on Android).

Google Maps Screenshot

The latest update to Google Maps brings the total options for reporting traffic slowdowns to seven.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

How to report road incidents in Google Maps

Once you have the latest Google Maps update installed, the rest is a breeze.

1. Open Google Maps and plot a route.

2. To upper right, beneath the microphone symbol you'll see four more buttons: search (the magnifying glass) mute (the speaker icon) compass lock (the compass needle) and finally the button for reporting traffic incidents (a dropped location pin with a + sign in it). Tap the location pin icon.

3. On the menu that pops up from the bottom of the screen, tap the type of road hazard you want to report.

4. You'll have about three seconds to change your mind, or you can tap Confirm to stop the timer and submit the report immediately.

5. Now you'll see a hazard warning pinned to your location on the map, with a symbol representing the issue and a number indicating how many people have reported it. For example, if you're the first person to report a car accident you'll see a symbol of a damaged car next to "1 reported."

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That's it -- now you can continue cruising along your route, happy in knowing you've possibly helped other travelers avoid a delay.

Traffic incident reporting is just one of many of the incremental improvements Google has made to the Google Maps app over the recent year. Just this month, Google updated the app with extra-detailed voice guidance to better serve the visually impaired. Over the summer, Google added a speedometer to Google Maps, and before that, in the spring, Google introduced incognito mode so you can plot and drive to any destination without leaving a paper trail.

Originally published last week.