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What speed does Google Maps use for driving to calculate ETA?


When the user creates a new route in Google Maps, the app calculates an estimated arrival time at the final destination. This time is often correct, but sometimes it's not clear what time Google Maps is targeting when calculating it. There is an assumption that Google Maps uses the speed limit. Is this true? Let's find out.

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Quick answer: To answer briefly, Google uses for its calculations not only the speed limit set on a particular stretch of road, but also the user's GPS. When you drive, the current position changes relative to satellites. Google Maps uses this data to adjust your speed every few seconds. The same ETA methodology is also used by other navigation apps.

What data does Google Maps use to calculate ETA?

The main source for ETA calculation is the average speed. These readings have a fixed value and do not change that often. Using the average speed, Google Maps displays an estimated time of arrival for the driver.

Additional factors that affect the estimated arrival time:

  • The length of the route
  • The traffic situation on the road
  • The current average speed of the vehicle
Google Maps current average speed

Although several factors are used to calculate the ETA, the speed limit is still the fundamental parameter. When you create a route, these figures are available to the Google Maps app initially. They are then adjusted as the vehicle moves.

What is ETA

The full meaning of ETA is Estimated Time of Arrival. This term is used in GPS navigators for reference purposes.

Using ETA, you can calculate / predict time of arrival based on your current location and the average speed of your vehicle.

Fastest route  and average speed

Various mobile applications and navigation services (e.g. Google Maps, Waze, Navitel) use their own methods of ETA calculation.

How does Google Maps get info about speed limits

There are several ways to collect information that is stored in Google databases and then used to calculate ETA. Let's list the main sources of data about set limits:

  • Waze (owned by Google): wazers correct information and send up-to-date data to Google
  • Data from Google Street View: For several years Google has been collecting information on the roads with its cars all over the world
  • Information available online and worldwide

So the Google Maps app takes information from multiple sources, aggregates it, and then uses it to build routes and calculate final arrival times.

Does your current driving speed affect distance time?

Google Maps users note that the estimated arrival time to the destination can be different from the original one.

Estimated arrival time

This is usually due to the situation on the road: traffic jams, road accidents, repair work. As a result, the app corrects the time of overcoming the distance and the time of reaching the finish line.

Google Maps requires a GPS connection with satellites, and the app actively uses the user's location to understand at what speed he is moving and to correct the route. Adjustment of the route happens all the time.

The fact is that the speed limits are not always a guide for Google Maps, as many drivers exceed the maximum allowed speed, or reduce it for safety reasons, or because of the difficult situation on the road.

Does Google Maps inform the user about speed limits?

Generally speaking, speed limits on Google Maps are used to warn the user that they have exceeded the speed limit and that it threatens safety. This feature of the app is very important.

If the user has enabled this feature through the navigation settings, Google Maps displays a speedometer icon and speed limits in the bottom right corner of the screen. The online speedometer calculates your current speed using GPS satellites.

Using GPS function on Android phone

By comparing the current speed to the allowed speed, Google Maps informs the driver how much he or she is deviating from the allowed speed limits.

What speed does Google Maps use for driving?

While driving, Google Maps uses the data coming from GPS satellites. Speed is calculated as the vehicle is moving. For this purpose, Google Maps measures the distance between different locations and records the time elapsed to cover this distance. Other mobile GPS navigators work in the same way.

Can I specify max speed in the Google Maps app?

Unfortunately, the current version of the Google Maps application does not have this option. You need to control the speed of your vehicle yourself. If you really need this feature, use TomTom instead of Google Maps.

How to use the speed limit option on Google Maps?

Here are the instructions for Android and iOS:

  1. Open the Google Maps app on your phone.
  2. Tap the profile icon to open the Settings menu.
  3. Go to Settings - Navigation settings.
Navigation settings on Google Maps
  1. Find the Speed Limits option and activate it.
  2. The speedometer icon will appear on the Google Maps home screen.

What is the formula for calculating travel time?

Here's a universal formula:

avg travel time = avg. distance ÷ avg. speed

Despite the fact that Google Maps service does not operate with exact figures, and takes average values, the final result is reliable. The fact that the figures are updated in real time.

Does Google Maps calculate time based on your speed?

Yes, if you know your speed and distance, Google Maps can calculate the time required to reach the final or intermediate point.

Accordingly, to calculate each of the values (speed, time, distance to destination) you need to know the other two.

Does Google Maps notify about Speed Traps

Probably, if there were no Speed Traps, speedometers would not be so important in GPS navigation. In areas where there are Speed Traps, drivers are more careful to make sure the speed limit is not increased.

Yes, in some areas, Google Maps notifies the user that there is a chance of hitting a speed trap. It works similarly to the Waze app.

It is necessary to activate this function through the settings of the navigator. As a result, when approaching a speed trap, Google Maps displays a notice and plays a sound signal. This allows the driver to reduce speed in time and get ready for the speed trap.

Does Google Maps account for time changes?

The official Google answer on this issue is: estimated travel does not change automatically. You need to calculate the route yourself when crossing time zone boundaries. To build complex routes with time change, use Schedule Explorer.

How fast does Google Maps assume you walk

The Google maps application is quite accurate in indicating your average walking speed. This indicator is not as subject to change as the speed of a car or train. The average walking speed is 3-4 miles per hour. This value may vary depending on the terrain and other conditions in which you may have difficulty walking the distance.

Does Google maps include time change?

No, you should make the change yourself. The Schedule Explorer is used for this purpose. This tool allows you to calculate a route taking into account time change. Go to Schedule Explorer, change the timezone and create a new route.

How fast does Google Maps assume you drive

As soon as the app notices that your driving speed changes sharply (more than 50 km per hour), the app calculates an ETA based on what you are using the car to drive. The average allowed speed of a car on the highway is 120 KM/h. Accordingly, Google Maps puts the appropriate limits and warns about speed cameras, if this option is enabled through the Settings.

Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.