Real-time traffic on your cell phone

June 25, 2008 12:28:02 PM PDT
The federal government is teaming up with Caltrans to send real-time traffic information to your cell phone or GPS device.

According to a recent Department of Transportation study, tie-ups and other chokepoints have made the Bay Area the sixth most congested region in America.

When traffic is flowing smoothly, it is going to be something you will want to know about and the new technology will send the information directly to your cell phone and tell you how long your commute will take to your destination.

These days, cell phones have lots of capabilities, but they soon have more, including the ability to tell you how to get to work.

"What ideally we envision is to be able to have a cell phone, as you are walking out your door, that will tell you if you are better off getting in your car and driving that day; you're better off taking public transit," says Paul Brubaker of the Department of Transportation.

California drivers are one step closer to having technology on their cell phones that provides traffic information and guidance. The $12 million project is a partnership between Caltrans and the Department of Transportation. The main goal is to make California roadways safer and driving easier.

"Congestion and safety is intertwined. It's hard to separate the two. If you do a good job at reducing congestion, you actually help safety," says Transit Safety Research leader Jim Misner.

Ideally, a device would be installed in thousands of Bay Area cars on a cell phone that is inside the car. The technology will allow the cars to communicate.

"So you get in your car and you are going to the Bay Bridge, it will give you, what we call dynamic route advisory and tell you the road is congested and to take another route," says Misner.

The technology will be field tested next year and may be available after that. It will be launched at a big conference in November in New York and if it takes off after that, it could be available to everyone in the next couple of years.


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