February 28, 2007
If you’re in San Francisco, New York , Chicago, Dallas, or any of the other cities we now include, just click on the traffic button to show current traffic speeds directly on the map. If your route shows red, you’re looking at a stop-and-go commute; yellow, you could be a little late for dinner; green, you’ve got smooth sailing.
It is being given top billing by getting its own button next to the 3 map type selection buttons. This probably implies they are getting (or expect to get) a lot of usage out of it.
If you’re zoomed out, you see traffic lights that you can click on to get area info and zoom links. Once you zoom in, the highways are color-coded. This is a much better interface than the hard to understand/read icons similar to Caltrans (and other traffic mappers). Rather than seeing where a traffic accident has occurred and that backup begins from there, you can see how far the backup goes. Hopefully this info is accurate and is not just a “point-to-point” reading where they have read the car speeds through sensors in the roads at two different locations that may be too far apart and have decided to color code the entire are between them as red (rather than using some sort of algorithmic extrapolation such as the change in speeds between the two locations to estimate where speeds slow down/stop.
Google Mobile has had this feature for half a year or so. I find mobile to be the best place for this…but a tie in with a navigation system would be far superior to a phone (do you “read” your phone while driving???).