Congestion Stalls the Unprepared

During rush hour in any major city, it seems like cars are everywhere. Getting through the morass of traffic is both a time-waster and a stress-producer. As the U.S. population continues to grow, increased road congestion has becomes a major problem. Recently, services available by phone and on the Internet have allowed drivers to check their routes before they depart, but most consumers don't take advantage of this ability. A recent survey sponsored by Telenav found that 72 percent of drivers do not check for traffic updates prior to hitting the road, leaving themselves potentially unprepared for long commutes and dependent upon intermittent radio station updates. And this can lead to frustration.

Road congestion isn't going away, either. In 2003, Americans spent 3.7 billion hours in traffic, and the average commuter now loses 47 hours to gridlock every year. Additionally, according to some estimates, driving in smaller cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis and nine other urban areas will be worse than present-day Los Angeles by 2030.

One answer is to get the traffic information you want and need on the go.  Currently, several technologies monitor traffic flow, but there are limited avenues to make this information available to drivers, especially when they are already in transit. Having a device on hand that provides real time, proactive rerouting could potentially reduce road rage and travel-related stress. And the stress-provoking nature of traffic congestion should not be taken lightly. One scientist found that the tension commuters experience when stuck in traffic is comparable to first-time parachutists. Receiving timely traffic information is a better option than jumping from a plane. Seventy percent of the 490 poll respondents in TeleNav's survey said they have been stuck in traffic and wished there were some way to quickly find a faster, alternate route.

"The benefits of providing a service to drivers that allows them to avoid travel congestion are immeasurable," said HP Jin, TeleNav president, CEO and cofounder. "With such a solution, not only can road warriors spend less time driving, but their lifestyles could also potentially be improved, both physically and mentally."

While some drive new luxury cars whose navigation systems offer real time traffic information and rerouting, the vast majority of us don't have that ability. But most of us do have mobile phones, and the good news is that GPS-enabled mobile phones can bring the same real time information to solve traffic headaches. For instance, TeleNav launched TeleNav Traffic in January as part of its TeleNav GPS Navigator service. It proactively monitors traffic along a driver's specific route and provides ongoing, real time alerts of upcoming congestion and incidents. If drivers would like to choose faster, alternate routes, they can do so simply by pressing a single button on their mobile device.

TeleNav GPS Navigator provides a cornucopia of services comparable to in-car systems found in luxury vehicles. It includes automatically updated maps and business locations, full-color 3D moving maps, traffic alerts with one-click rerouting and speech recognition. The service will also find Wi-Fi hotspots and point out the locations with the lowest fuel prices. Now, if it could just provide a "pretty woman" alert and sports scores, it would offer everything anyone ever needed.