One of the things I dislike most is traffic. I have little patience for it. But recently, I’ve come to realize that the primary reason I hate traffic is that I can’t tell what the hold up is. I get very anxious when I don’t know the root cause of why all the cars are at a standstill.
Thankfully, there are some great Twitter accounts and iPhone apps that provide real time, up-to-the-minute traffic information. Knowing what’s going on with the traffic eases my anxiety. When I know the problem, I am not simply stuck. I’m stuck but informed. This makes all the difference.
On Twitter, I follow @ABQPOLICE. Their twitter handle is a little misleading. They should have called themselves ABQTRAFFIC. This Twitter account is dedicated to sending tweets concerning traffic accidents in the greater Albuquerque area. What I like about it is that the tweets provide the location of the incident, whether a motorcycle or pedistrian was involved, how many cars were involved, and whether the accident was so bad that the entire freeway is closed, or if a portion of the freeway is blocked off so that the MedEvac Helicopters have enough room to land and rush the injured parties to the emergency room.
If you read this, @ABQPOLICE, know that you’re doing a great job! 🙂
One iPhone app I installed is KOB.com 4. It’s one of our local news stations, and it’s free! They have a tab for traffic, and they’ve created a taxonomy of traffic-related categories. They are:
- Camera (red light cameras to catch speeders)
- Traffic Flow Map
This app is great because it allows drivers to find out about traffic via multiple methods. If you’re a map person, you can use the Traffic Flow Map. Or, if you’re like me and simply want quick summary of what’s happening, you can click on the “Incidents” option, which gives you some basic metadata about traffic congestion. For example, it tells you when the incident was reported, when it expires, and a brief description.
Here’s how I use this information: If the incident report time was 20 minutes ago, it’s likely that someone has called for help and the vehicles have been moved to the side of the road. If the incident was reported three minutes ago, however, this tells me the traffic will likely be at a standstill, and I should find another route. The description portion is very useful, too. It’s like an abstract of the situation and it says things like: Traffic congestion, average speed is 5 miles per hour, the location is I-40 at the Rio Grande exit.
I give this app a round of applause! 🙂
But here’s one thing I’m noticing more and more: Traffic problems aren’t necessarily caused by two cars colliding. Here in ABQ, debris on the freeway is becoming a leading cause of traffic problems. What is debris? I’m not talking about an empty coke can. I’m talking about mattresses, ladders, furniture (chest of drawers, easy chair, table), metal, tires, entire loads (boxes and crates) of fruits and vegetables, and so on.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cautiously passed an overloaded truck to ensure I’m safe and out of harm’s way. And what really galls me is that the junk is not secured and tied down. It’s just loose piles of crap.
A few months ago, as I was driving home, the truck in front of me had a couple mattresses in the trunk. And before I knew what was happening, one of the box springs flew out of the truck and on to my car. Luckily, it didn’t damage me or my vehicle. But who knows how many other drivers had to make a quick decision about how to safely navigate their way around the stupid mattress.