ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As drivers may notice more police officers watching for speeding during Balloon Fiesta, some drivers are also noticing a new way to figure out where officers are running speed enforcement.
One of the most widely used map and navigation apps in the U.S., Google Maps recently added a feature where users can report speed traps along their driving route.
The feature has been around since late May, but more drivers are likely getting exposed to it in the metro-area this week as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta attracts thousands of out of town visitors.
The newer reporting mechanism comes as APD has increased traffic enforcement over the last year to help battle the city’s crime problem. APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says the department usually does at least one traffic enforcement operation each week.
“We knew if we were stopping people for traffic infractions, we might find felons or people with warrants,” said Gallegos. “It is a huge priority for us.”
Reporting an incident is almost effortless inside the app. During an active navigated route, Android-users of the app simply have to click an icon showing a dialogue bubble with a plus symbol in the middle of it. After clicking that icon, a list of items to report is displayed. That list includes crashes, traffic slowdown and speed traps.
“It’s understandable, people might want to be forewarned, they don’t want to get a speeding ticket but it is problematic for law enforcement,” said Gallegos.
New Mexico State Police State Police Lieutenant Mark Soriano also sees the potential in the speed trap reporting feature disrupting the agency’s work, which is often focused on highway and freeways.
“We’re out there to assure people get from point-A to their final destination safely,” said Soriano.
However, Lt. Soriano says the department isn’t too worried about the app causing trouble.
“It doesn’t change the way we do business,” said Lt. Soriano. “If they know that we’re in the area, maybe that will deter them, slow them down, and deter bad driving behavior.”
Anyone with the Google Maps app, including Android and iPhone users, can see the user-generated reports. However, only Android-users can add reports.
While these “speed trap” reports have existed in other navigation apps like “Waze,” Google Maps just added the feature a few months ago. The app is one of the most widely used for navigation in the U.S.