Imagine how awesome it would be if there was a way to know in advance of an upcoming traffic jam or accident. So far in advance that you could take an alternative route and avoid the congestion all together! Well you don’t have to imagine it much longer. There are services now available (and more that will be available soon), that not only will inform you of traffic problems that lie ahead, but will design alternative routes for you that will get you to your destination faster. Whether you have a GPS system, a cell phone or a satellite radio, you’ll be able to get real-time traffic info.
For those of you with a GPS device in your car, Dash Express is a new service that uses data collected from thousands of GPS devices on the road. The information collected then detects traffic slowdowns or accidents, and then is able to re-direct you to the fastest route in real time. Because Dash Express operates with two-way connectivity, it is the first service that can provide real-time traffic infornation. According to the company, the information will even tell you how fast the traffic is moving. For those of you who don’t have a GPS, you might not need to get one yet. There are similar systems that will soon be available for cell phones and satellite radio receivers. So just how does the Dash system provide you with real-time traffic info? Several of the current GPS providers (Tom Tom, Magellan, Garmin etc.) offer real-time traffic reporting options on their units. The information is sent via FM or satellite radio add-ons.
These reports are gathered from numerous government and private sources. Details such as accidents, broken down vehicles, and construction slowdowns are provided. Your GPS will then be able to select an alternative route to get you to your destination faster. Currently this system is not going to give you actual traffic flow and speed along a given route. This can sometimes result in your system giving you inaccurate drive times and unnecessary alternate routes. In order to know how fast cars are moving, you’ll need to purchase the Dash Navigation GPS unit. According to the company, their unit has Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities that will talk back to the Dash database, relaying real-time info such as the vehicle speed and location. As more and more drivers get connected to the Dash system, the more real-time and accurate reports that will be available. In the event your driving where insufficient info is available, all Dash systems will be pre-loaded with historical data for all major roads.
For cell phone users, traffic reporting technology begun to become available also. Verizon Wireless has the VZ Navigation GPS service. It is available for an extra monthly fee on some Verizon handsets. This service provides the user with turn by turn driving directions on a street map. The VZ Navigator also transmits your location to an internet service (traffic.com etc.) which is able to warn you of potential traffic issues that lie ahead. This system will only track by location, not vehicles speeds.
Cell phones are already being used to track real-time traffic info. With cell phones always in communication with towers, some companies are now using this data in conjunction with GPS data. With so many people having cell phones and because there is always a signal (even when not being used), they can provide information such as traffic flow speeds. IntelliOne’s TrafficAid service will become available in 20 cities beginning in March. They will combine the cell phone tracking with the GPS data to offer a more precise reporting on traffic flow.
For now, the Dash system has the edge on this technology. Because they use bidirectional, cellular, and Wi-Fi technology, Dash will be able to offer real-time tfaffic info. Expect the Dash Express GPS unit to cost around $600 to $800. The monthly fees will range from $10 to $15. According to the company, expect a nation-wide rollout this summer.