Google Traffic Prediction Engine Added to Maps

g_map_trafficAs someone who openly has some serious traffic anxiety (of the road variety), I was quite pleased this morning to see that Google has added a traffic prediction engine to their suite of map services.

Currently available in over 30 metropolitan areas, the new feature makes hour-to-hour predictions based on your route. Simply input you departure and destination points, select the “traffic” feature and zoom in. You’ll still get the colored lines you’re accustomed to, but now they are coupled with a series of icons offering more info.

Red – 0 to 25
Yellow – 25 – 50
Green – 50+ (pure bliss)

The icons that are small red disks (they look like ‘do not enter’ signs), will report a traffic issued. For example:

Narrow lanes on TRENTON RD between QUEEN ANN DR and OLDS BLVD

Utility Installation: LANE RESTRICTIONS between Queen Ann Drive & Olds Blvd. 9 AM – 3 PM.

Started: Apr 18, 2008 9:00am
Expected to end: Apr 18, 2008 3:00pm

There are also road construction and incident alerts.

Choose between live traffic or projected traffic on specific days and times.

Of course, the same information is available from your mobile device. My initial thought is that this is a great feature. As long as they keep it free, I’m in! My only issue is, being in the NY area, my map is littered with more icons than actual map. I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is. Perhaps listing the ‘urgent’ items in the right column of the page might be helpful. Then at least, I have the option to use the map or view a list.

Traffic might be pure evil, but at least tools like this make it a bit easier to swallow. Or, at the very least, allow us to mentally prepare for the tough (and crowded) road ahead.

Let the traffic obsessing continue.