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None of us appreciates a traffic jam, which are all too frequent occurrences with driving, biking, walking or rolling. That’s why there are a growing number of apps and websites that can alert us to traffic problems and allow us to choose alternate routes.

One such app, Waze (www.waze.com), may be particularly useful to survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, or hate-motivated crimes, who may have additional complicating emotions about being stuck in traffic.

Survivors may have complicated relationships with one cause of traffic jams: accidents. Around accidents and emergency vehicles survivors might feel:

  • Anxious or concerned about what has happened
  • Racing or intrusive thoughts
  • Claustrophobic when sitting in traffic and cannot easily get off the road
  • Helpless about not knowing what’s going on and what the cause for the delay is

While it is difficult for many people to witness an accident, survivors of past trauma can be especially sensitive to the associated sensory components, such as:

  • The flashing lights of emergency vehicles
  • The chaotic visuals of many people moving about in atypical ways on the street or sidewalk
  • The sensation of the road, which may literally vibrate or pulse when traffic has slowed or stopped
  • The atypical sounds of sweeping up the road or the whirr of the cars traveling in other lanes
  • The awareness that many people may be staring or trying to catch a glimpse of the accident

The heightened sensitivity many survivors have to these sensory stimuli may be uncomfortable, or even debilitating.

A newer GPS app, www.waze.com, helps drivers (and bikers, walkers, and rollers) navigate through or around delays and accidents. Another unique feature of Waze is the map notification of where police may be in the line of travel.

Many trans people have experienced negative interactions with law enforcement, including

  • Profiling
  • Misgendering
  • Being disbelieved
  • Being discriminated against
  • Police misconduct

Avoiding possible interactions or exposure to police isn’t always possible, but the Waze app allows people to opt for alternate routes, or at least help people be more emotionally prepared to see police on their path.   The app shows both uniformed police and/or marked cars, as well as law enforcement who may be “hidden” (in plain clothes or cars).

Using apps like Waze is a great way for trans/non-binary survivors and loved ones to feel more in control of what (and who) is in their path and have the option to making informed and empowered choices.