Few hells are worse than getting stuck in traffic. To help, Waze started test-piloting its separate Carpool feature back in 2015 and in its latest update, you can now invite multiple strangers to hop in the car with you.
Basically, Waze Carpool works by letting users create either a rider or driver profile. Then, the driver can choose who they’d like to carpool with based on a number of criteria, including gender, place of work, and time of day you might need a ride. Once paired up, you then split the cost of gas and other commute-related costs for the shared ride. But whereas before, a driver could only pick one other rider, now drivers will be able to pick up a maximum of four other riders headed the same way. So it’s sort of like a cheaper version of rideshare, but with the intention of getting to work and getting access to those sweet, sweet high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) fast lanes.
Like Lyft or Uber, Waze Carpool does utilize a star rating system and if you connect your Google or Facebook account, you can see if your driver or rider have any mutual friends. Still, it’s not entirely clear how Google is treating the obvious safety issues beyond the rating system. Drivers for traditional rideshare services have to go through a vetting process that often requires background checks, driving record checks, and obtaining the appropriate licenses depending on the city. And even in that case, you’ll occasionally find that an accused war criminal makes it into the driver’s seat. While you can’t really make money off Waze Carpool—the reimbursement is only really meant to offset some commute-related costs—it still doesn’t clarify what to do if your driver is a total creep. Gizmodo reached out to Google for more details about its vetting process and its harassment policy, and we’ll update if we hear back.
Cynically, if you’re riding with a bunch of other carpoolers, it does theoretically reduce the likelihood of a Ted Bundy-esque hitchhiking nightmare scenario. You know, witnesses and all that. On a less horrible note, if it goes well and catches on, perhaps we could see Google roll out its own version of a low-cost rideshare service to help reduce weekday traffic and carbon emissions. Questions about safety aside, it’s an idea with merit and lots of potential benefits. Just so long as, you know, we don’t forget that no one wants to get murdered on the way home.