Traffic reports are swell and all, but they don’t really help you when you’ve got no choice but to take the highway or risk the unknown — traffic on the regular roads. Google is trying to change that by offering “arterial” traffic data.
I usually would just guess that the traffic on back roads is light, but with this new launch the guesswork is eliminated: Google Maps will now show you live traffic conditions on arterial roads in selected cities. Just zoom-in on the city you’re interested in, and click the “Traffic” button in the upper-right corner of the map. As you zoom in closer to an area of interest, we’ll color the arterial roads, in addition to the highways, to show current traffic conditions. Just as with the highways, the colors correspond to the speed of traffic (relative to the speed limit of the road): green is free sailing, yellow is medium congestion, red is heavy congestion, and red/black is stop-and-go traffic.
Oh, and here’s the best part for people like me who like to plan things but typically really suck at it: You can also look up the average traffic patterns on a specific day and time.
If the idea doesn’t creep you out, you can also help improve the data by signing up for their traffic data crowdsourcing project.
Arterial traffic available on Google Maps [Google Blog]
Arterial, crowdsourced traffic info comes to Google Maps [Ars Technica]