Detour Prevention Mechanisms

Waze searches for the fastest route to the destination, but sometimes, a promising route takes detours from the most obvious, most direct, or otherwise most continuous route. These detours may involve taking side streets, making a few extra turns, or taking an exit off a highway and then re-entering the same highway a short distance later. Unless the detours actually save a notable amount of time (or distance), they aren't worth it to drivers, and Waze shouldn't suggest them. Here are two cases where Waze recognizes a detour in the route and applies a penalty to prevent that detour unless it saves enough time (or distance) to be "worth it."

Big detours

The big detour penalty (BDP) is meant to keep Waze from telling you to detour off a highway and then get right back on it unless it saves you enough time to be "worth it" - for example, if traffic is really slow on the "direct" route.

Direct Route
The continuous route most users would expect. For example, a route that stays on the same freeway from point A to point B
Detour
Any route used in place of the direct route.
Alternate Route
What Waze compares a route to - when evaluating a detour route, the direct route is the evaluated alternative.
A set of continuous segments which all have the same road type have Road Type Continuity. If the road type changes, there is a Road Type Discontinuity.
Name Continuity
A set of continuous segments which all share a name have name continuity. It doesn't matter hwether the name is found as a primary or alternate name on any of the segments, as long as it is present in each. If one of the segments in this continuous set does not share the name shared by all the other segments, then there is a Name Discontinuity.

Waze makes a few checks on an off-highway detour to see if it should be prevented. It checks the length of the detour, makes sure the road type changes, and that the name is not continuous with the highway the route detours from. It also checks that there exists an alternate route that is direct - the direct route must have both continuous road type and name continuity (see details below). Waze does not consider how many 'turn...', 'keep...', or 'exit...' instructions are issued on any of the paths it checks for detour prevention.

Criteria

If a detour being examined passes the checks listed below, we'll call it a preventable detour. If a route leaves a highway (based on road type) to one or more segments whose road type is not in the same road type group as the highway, only to re-enter that same highway, Waze will look for alternate routes to that re-entered highway segment and try to find a direct route. If a direct route is found, then Waze will apply the big detour penalty (BDP) to the preventable detour, thus favoring the direct route. Here are the specific checks that Waze makes:

1. Segments before and after the detour: The freeway/highway segments immediately before and immediately after the possible detour must share at least one street name among their primary and alternate names. Either segment may have the shared name as either a primary or an alternate name. These segments must also be from the same road type group as shown in the table below. The road type of these segments determines the maximum length of detour for which BDP will be applied.
2. Preventable detour: A preventable detour is a possible detour that meets all of these criteria:
1. Name discontinuity - The detour must have at least one segment that has no names in common with any of the names on the highway the route has detoured from, including the highway segment right before the start of the detour and the highway segment immediately after the end of the detour. This condition is said to be a break in "name continuity" of the detour.
2. Road type discontinuity - The detour must have at least one segment whose road type is not in the same road type group as the highway the route has detoured from, including the highway segment immediately before the start of the detour and the highway segment immediately after the end of the detour. This condition is said to be a break in "road type continuity" of the detour.
3. Minimum length - The possible detour must be more than one segment long.
4. Maximum length - The possible detour must be shorter than the threshold length as shown in the table below for the road type group of the two segments immediately before and after the detour.
3. Direct route: A direct route is an alternate route that meets the criteria below:
1. Existence: There must be a different way to go - an alternate route - connecting the freeway/highway segments immediately before and immediately after the detour, which does not use any of the segments in the detour.
2. Continuity The entire alternate route should have name and road type continuity. As of December 2017, this is done with a full continuity check, meaning all segments of the alternate route must have both name and type continuity with the segment immediately before and the segment immediately after the detour. This is the most resource-intensive continuity check, but is also the most robust way to to help ensure we don't penalize routes unless there actually is a comparable route that doesn't involve changing roads at all.
Road Type Group Threshold
Freeway
Major Highway
5km
Minor Highway  500m

Notes

• If the first segment after the detour is the beginning of a freeway or highway, and thus can only be accessed from ramps or segments of a different road type group, then there can be no direct route according to the above criteria.
• For divided roadways that have the same name on both carriageways, the big detour prevention mechanism will prevent U-turns that traverse more than one segment. Thus, in the intersection below, the configuration on the left should be used to route a U-turn because it uses a single segment between the two parallel roadways with the same name. In contrast, the configuration on the right should not be used because the U-turn road branches from another segment causing multiple segments between the two parallel roads with the same name, and the U-turn is not in the same road type group, preventing BDP from working.

• Be careful of "false positives!" For example, where route number concurrences begin and end, the big detour prevention mechanism may be unexpectedly triggered as follows (see diagram):
• In a concurrency, two highways share the same road, and both names will appear on the concurrent segments, using alternate names. Where the concurrency ends, the two highways split into separate roadways again.
• Often, there are ramp segments connecting the last concurrent segment to one or both of the non-concurrent continuations. If the concurrency was of I-1234 and I-4567, for example, there might be a ramp named "to I-1234 / Sometown" - a name which contains "I-1234" but is not identical to the highway name.
• If the ramp does not also carry a simple alternate name of "I-1234", then there is a discontinuity of the highway name between the concurrency and the continuation highway. If there are two ramp segments like this, it will trigger Big Detour Prevention unexpectedly, and Waze will create an unneeded penalty for continuing on I-1234.
• To prevent this, just assign I-1234 as an alternate name to all ramps between the two sections (concurrency and continuation). Note that if there is only a single ramp segment connecting the highways, there will not be a "false positive." Nevertheless, it is a good practice to do this even for a single ramp segment, in case the ramp is cut into two segments later, either by accident or because later construction or map improvements connect another feeder ramp in the middle.
• Another example of a false positive could occur where a highway has multiple wayfinders connected, one to another, (for example, if there are several multi-lane exits in a row).

Small Detours

Waze has a small detour prevention mechanism to deal with instances where Waze calculates that that a left turn can be "optimized" by using U-turns and right turns (either continue straight, U-turn, right turn; or alternatively, immediate right turn, U-turn, continue straight). While this may save a few seconds over waiting for a long average left turn, it is undesirable. Waze will prevent such detours if there is not a notable difference in the route times. The actual difference in time required to trigger this prevention is a closely-guarded secret, but if you come across one of these where you feel Waze didn't adequately prevent it, please contact your community leadership for advice. There may still be a solution, but it may have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.