Google Maps to launch safety feature for taxi passengers

Most of us have heard of the taxi scam and some of us may have been victim of one. You land in a new place and wish to find a certain location and hire a local taxi. The driver promises to take you there directly and instead takes a winding route to your destination thus raking up the meter charges; or worse still, diverges from the correct route with the intention of molesting you or to steal your money and other belongings.

Google is said to be testing a new safety feature for Google Maps that will alert you if your car or taxi deviates from its route by more than 500 meters. For the moment, the feature appears to be available only in India, where such taxi scams are often reported in local media. The feature, called “off-route alerts”, can be found within the ‘Stay safer’ menu that becomes accessible after you have selected your destination but before you enter navigation mode.

It is unclear how close the safety feature is to a full release or whether it will be globally available or specific to the Indian market. Just last week, Google introduced two India-specific Maps features: one gives better information about public transport and the other provides flood warnings in the country.