Nobody likes to spend time sitting in traffic. It wastes time, squanders gas, and raises stress levels, thus increasing your accident risk (don’t tell the auto insurance companies). Therefore, it's in drivers' best interests to avoid traffic jams as much as possible.
Thankfully, technology has progressed to the point where Americans no longer have to rely on instinct, sporadic traffic reports on the radio, or even online information which could be outdated by the time they get behind the wheel.
There are numerous applications for smartphones which incorporate up-to-the-minute traffic information and display it in a user-friendly fashion. Here are six of the top traffic apps on the market today.
1. Waze Social GPS & Traffic (Free)
This is what happens when crowdsourcing meets traffic reporting. The app relies on user-related content to update traffic conditions, and allows drivers to increase their "status" by posting more real-time traffic information. Obviously, it works best in areas where more people are using it. It's being called "like Foursquare, but for driving."
2. Beat The Traffic Plus ($3.99)
This service more closely resembles traditional traffic software, with color-coded maps that indicate which routes are jammed and which are free-flowing. The user can get detailed information about accidents (lane blockages, alternate routes, etc.), and the app can also predict traffic patterns and commute times. It's based on a great concept and should improve even more with future versions.
3. Inrix Traffic (Free)
This app claims that it operates using the world's largest traffic network, which also includes transportation departments, fleet vehicles, historical data, and Inrix users, in addition to real-time reporting data. Drivers can even take advantage of forecasting data so they can pick the best time to leave from home or work to beat the traffic.
4. Traffic Cam Viewer (99 cents)
Drivers who want to see the traffic situation themselves will love this particular app. It simply allows them to tap into the video footage recorded by municipal traffic cameras and get a real-time view of how roads and freeways look. Different cameras can be displayed simultaneously in order to figure out which route to take. The service is available in most (but not all) states.
5. Sigalert - Live Traffic Reports (Free)
Billed by one site as "the king of the traffic apps," this service utilizes the most up-to-date maps because it stays current with state highway patrol data -- which means drastically fewer mapping errors. Also, these maps are clickable and zoomable, and they use information from road sensors to maximize accuracy. It works well in most major metropolitan areas.
6. Glob - Traffic and Radar (Free)
This award-winning traffic app is garnering plenty of positive reviews from users. It gathers real-time data to display the most and least congested routes, and even tracks the user's position (anonymously) using GPS technology in order to increase the accuracy of its information. Users can also report speed traps to warn fellow travelers, and there's also a "biker mode" with increased visibility.