Friday, September 23, 2011

Driving Directions and Traffic Updates Using Google Maps

For comedians, it's super-important to make it to a gig on time. When you're driving in a new city, you never know what you'll run into. Fortunately technology has made our lives just a little bit easier.

Natural Language Search Using Google Maps
Let's say you're flying into O'Hare airport, renting a car and driving to Kentland, IN. Follow these simple instructions for quick and easy directions:

Comparing Suggested Routes
Let's take a closer look at the directions page provided by Google:
Google Map showing Alternate Routes

You'll notice in this example that Google automatically suggests a route, and provides two other suggested routes, as well (pictured in red circle above). Click the other suggested routes to see them on the map. They'll take about the same time according to Google, so how do you choose?

Identifying Traffic and Construction Delays
Did you know Google Maps displays both real-time and predicted traffic? If not, this tip alone could potentially save you hours of sitting in traffic. 

Click "Traffic" in the upper right-hand corner of the map. Immediately, Google will show real-time (as in happening right now) traffic delays and construction. Awesome!

Google Map showing Predicted Traffic delays on Mondays at 8:00 AM

From the map we can see that we should expect heavy delays on the suggested routes using I-94.

But what if our trip isn't until next week? No problem, click the "change" button in the lower left-hand corner of the map beside "Live traffic". We can then see predicted traffic on say a Monday morning at 8:00 AM. 

Is your mind sufficiently blown?

Real-Time Updates Using Your Mobile Phone
It gets better. Download the free Google Maps App for your mobile phone. The next time your sitting in stand-still traffic on I-95, pull up the map and load the "Traffic" layer to get real-time traffic updates. You'll quickly be able to see if the jam ends just a half-mile ahead or if you need to seek alternate routes. 

Share Your Driving Tips
My number one tip is this: never miss a show because of traffic. Allow yourself plenty of time to get lost, change a flat tire, and sit in traffic. No one wants to hear why you were late - especially your agent.

Please share your driving and travel tips in the comments section below!

No comments: