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Traffic app facing speed bumps in quiet neighborhoods

Waze cuts down commuting times by suggesting alternative routes to bypass gridlock
Waze cuts down commuting times by suggesting ... 03:02

The average commuter spends nearly 40 hours a year stuck in traffic. But with the help of a popular map app Waze, drivers are finding new shortcuts, often through neighborhood side-streets, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

The new problem has people who live in one Los Angeles neighborhood insisting the cars are more than just a nuisance.

"It's like freeway traffic and we gotta put a stop to it because somebody's going to get hurt," resident Paula Hamilton said.

She blames Waze, the smartphone app updated in real time. While the app itself uses GPS technology to monitor traffic speed, users can report accidents, construction and roadblocks. Millions of people use it to find their way around gridlock. But the traffic has to go somewhere.

"This is a small street, it can only handle so much traffic volume and then when you get the commuter mentality here, it becomes a safety issue here, not just a faster route issue," resident Todd Redmond said.

Some are lobbying the city to deter traffic with speed bumps, stop signs or by limiting traffic at certain times of the day. Others are fighting back using the app's own technology, hoping to sabotage it with false information.

But Waze spokesperson Julie Mossler insists that type of response is not common.

"We haven't seen anyone really trying to game the system," she said.

Waze also said its drivers have every right to be on any open road.

Di-Ann Eisnor, head of global partnerships at... 04:11

"Although Waze may be used through streets which may be residential, if they're public, and it's legal to be driving down them, we will use them to help dissipate traffic," Mossler said. "But keep in mind that Waze was developed to help dissipate congestion and because of the algorithms that we have, we'll never route enough cars down a street to actually create a problem that wasn't there."

The L.A. Department of Transportation told "CBS This Morning" it's getting complaints that Waze is creating congestion, but can't confirm the app is responsible. And for now, even among critics, it can be hard to resist a faster commute.

"I'm a Waze user myself," one resident said. "I think we all have to be a little more conscious of how we're using it, and how we're driving through people's neighborhoods."

Because in cities where people battle traffic all day, it's the last thing they want to come home to.

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