Getting a speeding ticket is downright frustrating, not to mention that it can cost a pretty penny. Since paper maps are, for the most part, a thing of the past, today’s drivers rely on GPS services to get directions and speed limit information. Let’s be real, it is so much more convenient to have your display up and just see the map constantly. Having the speed limit on the screen as well negates the risk of “Oh shoot! I was going 50 mph in a 30! It LOOKED like a highway!” Thankfully Google maps offers this feature now.
While most GPS devices and apps offered to display the speed limit from the get-go, Google Maps was late to catch on. As of recently, though, this useful feature is available on Google Maps as well.
A Short History of Google Maps
Google’s efforts to map out the entire world are no secret. It all started way back in 2004 when the online search giant acquired Where 2 Technologies, a Sydney-based company that developed the initial software.
At the same time, Google shelled out some more cash to acquire Keyhole, a company that developed geospatial data visualization software. If you are into trivia, it’s interesting to know that Keyhole received some notoriety because the CIA was among its investors. Spooky.
Conspiracy theories aside, Keyhole became Google Earth and many of its features ended up in Google Maps. Continuing the great 2004 shopping spree, Google also acquired the real-time traffic analysis company ZipDash that same year.
Under Google’s wing, the acquired companies provided the necessary know-how to create the navigation behemoth that’s still evolving, and absorbing other companies and technology, today.
What About the Speed Limits?
Although the feature is widely available on the app as of early 2019, speed limits are not entirely a new thing on Google. By this point in the article, you can probably guess that the journey began with an acquisition.
In 2013, Google spent about $1 billion to get Waze, the hugely popular navigation software known for its detailed road information. And lo and behold, about 6 months later, the features that Waze was known for started popping up in Google Maps. Still, though, there were no speed limits.
Initial tests for the speed limit feature began in 2016. At the time, it was only available in Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco. Earlier this year, a Google Maps update made the feature available in the U.S., U.K., and Denmark. But it didn’t stop at speed limits.
Much to the annoyance of the county treasuries, the update includes speed camera icons to help you avoid traps and speeding tickets. Besides the U.S., this neat feature is also available in Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Russia, and a few other countries. So, if you’re about to embark on a road trip to Cancun, you can do so with complete peace of mind.
How to Enable Speed Limit
Enabling the speed limit on Google Maps is very easy. To get started, launch the app, select Menu, and tap Settings (the “gear” icon).
Under Settings, tap on the Speedometer and turn on additional settings as per your desire. The settings include:
- Show Speed Limit – Shows the speed limit for the road you are currently on. It is located next to the speedometer.
- Show Speedometer – An icon pops up in the bottom-left to indicate your current speed.
- Play Alert Sound – An alarm sounds off when you exceed the speed limit.
- When to Show Alert – You get to choose if you want the alarm when driving above or at the speed limit.
Other Useful Features
Google Maps is a genuine navigation powerhouse. There are a bunch of customization options, hidden features, and geospatial search tools. Here are a few you are bound to find useful.
Like most users, you probably access Google Maps on your smartphone. But what happens if there’s no coverage? No problem, Google’s got you covered.
Select your destination and tap the bottom of the screen. Hit Download in the pop-up window and you’ll be able to access the map (directions and businesses included) from the download section.
Google Maps allows you to see ridesharing options from Lyft and Uber within the app. Select your destination and tap on the ride-hailing icon or the mass transit icon.
You are immediately shown all the available vehicles in your area including fare and time estimates, though this service may vary depending on your exact location and your internet or data connection.
The massive collection of images in Street View allows you to see how streets have changed over time. Want to see what your neighborhood looked like before? Now you can. This special time machine is now available in all locations, and you can access it by clicking on the “stopwatch” icon.
To find wheelchair-accessible routes, hit Directions after you select your destination.
Then, tap the public transportation icon and select Options.
From there, you’ll be able to see Wheelchair accessible under Routes.
This feature was first available in New York, Boston, London, and a few other cities around the globe. However, more information is being added, so feel free to check it out. Updates keep rolling out so make sure you are always using the latest version in order to get the latest features.
Depending on how long you have been using Google Maps, you may have received an email in January of 2020 with a link to see your location history. Basically, the app can track you throughout the year and during your rides and it reminds you of where you have been. Some may think that this is a cute way to remember trips, or maybe even a useful way to track gas mileage. I personally can’t help but be sorta creeped out by it. But hey! if this is useful for you now you know. You can see thi information in the “Location History” tab in the app.
Keep the Pedal Off the Metal
Speed limit and speed trap warnings are among the most useful features Google has recently introduced. For commuters and road trip enthusiasts, these can be a real lifesaver. As these features become available in more cities worldwide, they could make the roads a lot safer in the long run.