In the olden days of yore, commuters could only source traffic information via eccentric radio traffic reporters and local television news anchors. Both those sources only report traffic after it is at its worst. This leaves drivers calculating the best five minute window to leave work or their home with only their intuition and personal knowledge of back-roads to guide them; and if they guess wrong… road rage is sure to follow.
However, in the new software driven world there are plenty of useful tools to help guide your daily commute with up-to-the-minute traffic information. The market for navigation-centric smartphone and tablet apps has exploded in recent years and there are many to choose from. This short list will help you decide what to use on your commute.
1. VDOT 511 is an app that is Virginia-centric and was released by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Not only will this app alert you of construction, bridge openings, wrecks tunnel blockages, as well as congestion, it will also let you view a live feed of multiple VDOT camera systems so you can see exactly what you’re in for on the road ahead.
2. Waze Social GPS Maps & Traffic allows users to set a destination and the app will chart the quickest path between two points. The user can then, while on the commute, flag any slowdown, wrecks, construction, police checkpoints, speed-traps, or other roadside nuisances within the app for other drivers. This crowd-source approach to navigation keeps maps constantly updated at peak times and gives you an accurate picture of your commute as it currently exists. Commuters can even send estimate of their arrival times to others via the app, offering great convenience.
3. The tried and true, Google Maps will pull from multiple sources of information and give commuters reliable information based on their commute. Google will also update while you are on your commute and suggests impromptu routes around traffic, with your permission of course. Whether you want to check on a desktop before you leave, or use your phone while in a jam, Google has simplified and improved everyone’s experience once again. (To access traffic, there is a drop-down menu within the app that you will have to select.)
4. Spotify is great for the inevitable moments where you are bound to be trapped in traffic at the midtown or downtown tunnel in Norfolk. The music streaming service is available on most devices and lets users create and save their favorite playlists with little to no cost other than advertising.
In the 1980’s the only way to know about traffic was to listen to the radio, in the 1990’s TV became a similarly popular source, in 2000 the personal GPS found its way to many a car dashboard, and now in 2015 we have a plethora of options just waiting for use on our phones. Technology is wonderful.