The first time I fired up Waze -- the hot new traffic navigation app that's generated lots of buzz and lots of money -- I immediately had two thoughts: This thing is incredibly useful, and it's incredibly dangerous.
My first experience with Waze came while I was a passenger on a three-hour drive in December from Washington, D.C., to rural Maryland for a winter camping trip. When my fiancée and I encountered heavy traffic, I fired up the app and was immediately blown away by the volume of information at my fingertips. I could see how far the traffic jam extended, alternate routes available to me, and the speed at which drivers ahead of me were traveling. I could submit my own reports about traffic and road hazards -- complete with photos -- to help out the drivers behind me. And if I wanted, I could even chat with other motorists near me about the roadway conditions. I took particular pleasure in calling out when we'd be encountering roadkill or stalled out vehicles a few minutes before they came into view, almost feeling like I could predict the future. The longer we drove, the more fun I had using Waze. But the longer I used it, the more convinced I became that I would never let myself use Waze while I was driving. The volume of information on display was just too much.