Smart travelling – Navigation tools for live traffic updates

July 9, 2015
Travel Smarter

ALL city drivers are aware that traffic conditions are unpredictable, especially in Kuala Lumpur. We can all plan and perhaps leave a little earlier for our appointments so that we will make it on time to our destinations.

Smart drivers know that information is king when it comes to beating the traffic. It’s a common thing that we would all tune it to the radio during rush hour for the latest traffic updates, and some radio stations receive calls from their listeners for any traffic incidents.

Of course, it helps if you know the roads and highways like the back of your hands, so you know the detours and can take the least jammed or faster routes.

Some people even keep thick books of maps in their cars to help them navigate the roads. Remember those road maps?

Smartphone apps

With the evolution of technology, we are no longer reliant on some of the conventional ways of getting travel information. In recent years, smartphones are turning out to become far more useful than just for phone calls and replying to text messages. These days, many drivers are turning to GPS-based geographical navigation apps that can be downloaded for free.

These applications promise to help drivers “outsmart” traffic. They offer turn-by-turn directions with estimated travel times and route details. These apps usually offer a few different routes to the destination, with distance to cover and estimated arrival time.

One of the most popular apps is Waze, a free social mobile app that enables drivers to build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation for an optimal commute, as well as many other useful features.

It tracks the driving speed of everyone using it, which enables it to measure the travelling time from one point to another. It also uses live information from users who update disruptions to traffic flow such as accidents, road blocks and hazards on the roads.

One of the benefits of using GPS-based navigation apps is that it guides drivers to explore different routes. It gives them the confidence to try different roads and highways.

Navigational apps will almost always guide users towards highways as they offer faster travelling times with the least congestion. There is a feature “avoid toll roads” on your device. If you select it, it will direct you to the old trunk roads and you’ll find that it’d take almost seven hours to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, instead of the four hours it takes on the North-South Highway.

For some routes, these apps would even suggest different highways as options. For instance, Waze says one can use three different highways to get from Cheras to Cyberjaya – the Cheras-Kajang Highway (29.2km, in 29 mins), the Sungai Besi highway (27.8km, in 35 mins) and the Maju Expressway (30.5km, in 31 mins).

This is especially helpful when there is a new highway that has just opened up which we have not used before. With navigational apps, we can opt for new highways, knowing it will guide us on the right exit to use and through the roads to our destination.

Live Feeds

Even if you do not own a smartphone or subscribe to mobile data, fret not. These days, many radio stations are referring to these GPS navigational apps in their traffic updates.

You could also log on to website of the relevant highway concessionaire and check out their live video feeds and traffic condition updates.

For those in the Klang Valley, make full use of Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Integrated Transport Information System (ITIS), which is a comprehensive traffic information system to monitor traffic flow. Check out the live video feeds and useful traffic information they put on their web site itis.com.my.

With technology’s help, we may be able to outsmart traffic congestion.