A Smarter Commute with Traffic Information

TomTom’s HD Traffic and navigation systems have made the lives of commuters less congested, to say the least. Available in an increasing number of metropolitan areas, these services help motorists stay up to date with real-time traffic conditions along the routes that have been programmed into their GPS systems. A GPS system enabled with traffic updates provides warnings on traffic incidents, such as construction and accidents, giving you enough time to plan a new route and avoid traffic jams.

How Traffic Information Works

Traffic information providers compile real-time traffic data, which is then broadcasted over radio frequencies to GPS devices configured to receive them. Depending on the equipment you are using, you can either subscribe to a service that broadcasts with satellite radio signals or one that broadcasts over terrestrial FM. Regardless of the service, traffic information will not interfere with the satellite radio or FM reception, meaning you can still listen to either source while receiving traffic signals.

Using traffic information is as easy as programming a destination into your GPS system. While you are driving, the system receives and delivers alerts as traffic incidents arise. You are provided with both a visual indicator and audible warning on the map display of your GPS system, showing you just where along the route an incident has occurred. Most systems will suggest alternate routes to allow you to avoid a particular incident, saving you precious time.

The traffic information may detail accidents, construction projects, emergencies, schedule road closures and traffic diversions created by occasions such as concerts and sporting events. There are a few services that also offer detailed information concerning the flow of traffic and average speed along the route programmed into your navigation system.

Benefits of Traffic Information

The major benefit of traffic information is simple: time savings! In most cases, you enjoy accurate warnings of traffic incidents, and you can subsequently find a better route. Because this data is being used in conjunction with a GPS system, you also get helpful suggestions for the best alternative routes.

What You Need

For the most part, all you need to enjoy the benefits of real-time traffic information is a traffic-enabled GPS device and an antenna that either picks up FM or satellite radio signals. Keep in mind that a subscription to a particular service is also required. The service, of course, all depends on what type of GPS device you have. Subscriptions for satellite services range from $3.99 to $9.99 per month while terrestrial FM services cost about $60 a year. Some of the most popular traffic information services include:

• Clear Channel Traffic Message Channel
• MSN Direct
• Navteq Traffic RDS
• SIRIUS Satellite Radio
• XM Satellite Radio NavTraffic

TomTom recently introduced its own subscription-based service for its devices enabled with HD traffic. This service operates through a wireless connection with a compatible Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone.

You will no longer have to depend on local radio stations broadcasts for scheduled traffic reports – which serendipitously coincide when you already see a grueling traffic jam 10 cars ahead of you. Real-time traffic information from your GPS system gives you a peace of mind that makes for a more relaxed and time-effective commute.


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