Google Maps will now notify drivers in cities like Paris and London that they’re about to enter a low-emission zone that could incur a hefty fine.
If this brush with low-emission zones and subsequent fines sounds eerily familiar, then it’s probably because we know that they exist in major cities, but we're not so good at knowing where the exact boundaries of these zones lie. Fortunately, that's where Google Maps' latest update steps in to help you steer clear of any potential pitfalls on your next journey.
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In a bid to stop unwitting tourists, drivers, and those generally unaware of where these low-emission zone boundaries start, Google Maps now issues zonal alerts to drivers in Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Paris.
Aptly nicknamed the 'Big Smoke', London is one example of a city that's hot on low-emissions zones, regularly dishing out fines to drivers who impinge upon London’s ultra-low emission zones (Ulez). These cover many tourist hotspots and heritage sites, from: Mayfair in the west; Whitechapel in the east; Clerkenwell, in the north; and, finally, to Lambeth in the south. It covers vast swathes of London, and it's easy to be caught off guard.
Google says that alerts now start popping up when your driving route is set to enter a low-emission zone. Drivers will also get a real-time alert to inform them that they're nearing a zone while driving their vehicle.
Low-emission zone fines can add up, too, if drivers regularly break the rules: older vehicles below modern emission standards have to pay £12.50 in the London zones. Meanwhile, before the areas expand in October, this charge applies in the same geographical area as the separate £15 congestion charge.
Getting walloped with a bunch of charges is certainly a good way to spoil a nice day out, so Google Maps’ alerts could be a real boon to your bank account if they stop you encroaching on no-go low-emission areas. In our opinion, Google Maps is a much more user-friendly app than, say, Apple Maps, and we think it's the best iPhone app to get you to where you need to be without getting lost. Throw into the mix native alerts that may prevent drivers from incurring unnecessary fines, Google Maps can seem to do no wrong.