I'm not sure what it's like for drivers in other cities, but as a
resident of Los Angeles, I know I can't go anywhere without checking
SigAlert.com before hitting the freeway. Unfortunately, the minute I
turn off my computer, I'm out of touch with the constantly changing
traffic landscape, and the radio traffic updates don't help much when
stuck in a snarl and it's nine minutes away from the next update.
In-dash navigation devices are great for plotting a route, but it's
when you're connected to the very latest in technology that you are
able to really experience the benefit of LIVE traffic updates.
It was behind the wheel of a Cadillac CTS provided to AskPatty for editorial evaluation that I first experienced XM LIVE traffic: I was on the 101 Freeway when a lovely woman's voice spoke to me to warn of an traffic jam at an upcoming street. The passengers in my car were astounded! A touch upon the nav screen revealed colored lines and alerts to demonstrate various speeds and levels of traffic delay. It was like having our own traffic angel in the car with us.
Well INRIX promises to take live traffic even further with a new product it calls "Total Traffic Fusion," the first traffic data service that intelligently combines real-time, predictive, and historical traffic information for over 800,000 miles of roadways across the United States.
What does that mean in plain English? It means an INRIX-enabled nav
system can adjust its route planning solutions to determine accurate
arrival times, make adjustments on the fly to keep you traveling on the
most optimal routes, determine the best time to start a route, or even
trigger alerts on traffic changes ahead of you -- as you drive -- based
on real-time info from other drivers uploading their traffic info en
route, as well as historical data saved from millions of previous
Need to get to Los Angeles Airport from Long Beach? INRIX can tell you in advance the best time to hit the 405 so you can avoid the dreaded South Bay Curve. (You might not want to leave at Midnight, but that's a different story; at least you'll know in advance exactly what to expect if you have to catch a 3 p.m. flight.)
While it's not available directly to consumers, INRIX (www.inrix.com) claims this service will improve in-vehicle automotive applications (such as Ford Sync and other automobile offerings), portable navigation devices that utilize two-way connectivity, certain nav-capable wireless phones and PDA's, as well as internet-based applications such as MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, and MSN Microsoft. INRIX is currently the traffic information provider for such systems and manufacturers as DASH, BMW, Volvo, Garmin, TomTom, and others.
Total Traffic Fusion also promises to provide speed information for busy city streets and congested arterials, in addition to major freeways and the entire U.S. interstate highway system. So, if you're trying to get to a doctor's appointment at Cedars-Sinai, INRIX can warn you before you go to be aware of slowing on Wilshire Blvd. and allow you to choose another street instead. Name another traffic service that can offer you that kind of traffic/navigation solution!
On one hand, having such a system in your car means you'll never be late to another important appointment. On the other hand, it also means you'll never be able to use bad traffic as an excuse again! I can't wait to try it!