Apps to Beat Traffic Woes

Avoid road delays using your smartphone.

By Laura Merritt on February 27, 2013

Traffic. It’s the dreaded word that makes us late for work and other important appointments.

A recent report found that traffic is not just affecting our schedules - it’s also affecting our wallets. A study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute concludes that traffic congestion in 2011 cost the average commuter $818 in wasted time and fuel. The study also found that the typical commuter experienced delays totaling 38 hours for the year, nearly the length of a work week.

And, if you happen to live or work in one of the cities noted for the worst traffic in 2011, the loss of time and fuel is likely greater. The good news is that apps on your smartphone can help you steer clear in these and every city where traffic jams abound. Here are a few helpful options.

VZ Navigator uses real-time, turn-by-turn spoken directions with street names and true-to-life images of highway and exit signs. You can choose your preferred route, locate lowest-reported gas prices, and receive real-time traffic updates, alerts and local weather forecasts. The service also offers safety features including school zone notifications and customizable speed limit warnings. 

For current traffic maps and information including average speeds, incidents and roadwork in the area, download Beat the Traffic. In addition, the app provides a forecast feature that lets you know what traffic will be like in the next few minutes, hours or even days.

For those who want to share and receive information from fellow drivers, there’s Waze, which uses real-time reports on traffic jams, accidents, and road hazards from app users to help you avoid traffic snarls. Like many other check-in sites and apps, Waze offers badges and discounts for reporting.

INRIX Traffic provides another option to help you decide the best route to get around traffic based on data from nearly 100 million drivers. The app’s Forecast Slider also recommends departure times based on current traffic conditions.

We know the traffic and the perennial orange barrels we encounter aren’t going away, but our smartphones give us the tools to ease the pain and save time, money and gas when we hit the road.