Joburg drivers used to battling through gridlocks, roadblocks, accidents and mayhem can now plan their routes to avoid congestion and get a fairly accurate estimate of how long the trip will take.
And on top of getting the quickest route plotted through traffic in real time, motorists can get their directions either electronically or as a voice – all on a smartphone or a computer.
Over and above that, they can call up a street view of any new or unknown destination to see whether there are parking bays nearby or where the entrance is.
All of this is thanks to a new Google application called “Traffic” – introduced to SA this week.
By logging on to the app – made available to the greater Joburg area on Wednesday – anyone can access it using smartphones or the internet.
It can be coupled with the Street View app, which has been available since 2010.
Once a destination is punched in, three colours pop up along the route: a red line showing where traffic is slow – travelling at below 40km/h; a yellow line showing traffic going at between 40 and 80km/h; and a green line for more than 80km/h.
The maps will not only show the time it will take, but indicate traffic conditions.
Julie Taylor, Google’s head of communications for sub-Saharan Africa, said the new app would allow people to monitor clogged areas and weigh up the best route options.
She said Google used the GPS data of hundreds of thousands of smartphone and computer users who already had Google Maps installed to gauge traffic conditions in real time.
“This is a first for South Africa. We introduced the service to complement our maps services, which offer a host of geographical information such as maps, satellites, navigation, imagery and even Street View – which shows the user a photograph of the street they are heading to.”
Heavy traffic had a negative impact on productivity and increased levels of frustration.
“Google Traffic shows the roads and traffic in real time,” she said.