While you may not be ready for a nonstop stream of real-time traffic data, that doesn't mean you can't take a few steps in that direction. While not as up-to-the-minute as real-time information, there are a number of traffic data sources that offer frequent updates that can improve routing and dispatch productivity.
Mileage and routing software suppliers for trucking like ALK and Rand McNally provide frequent updates that can include temporary road closures and other disruptions. For example, Rand McNally offers RoadWork, a construction update for its IntelliRoute software. With new updates available to subscribers every two weeks via the Internet, it adds information on construction projects that extend for at least one mile on Interstates, U.S. highways, state highways and major Canadian highways, and arterials. Once downloaded, it works seamlessly with the software's routing engine to determine the best routes around the construction sites.
Funded largely by an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) initiative, a variety of government sources also offer a wide menu of traffic information sources. Take the toll-free 511 service now available in 31 states and most major metropolitan areas. These regional 511 systems aggregate information from many sources including toll agencies, municipal traffic departments, police traffic reports and even web cameras. While not specifically intended for fleets or commercial vehicles, they also provide information on roads with truck bans or low clearances as well as traffic flow data on major arteries. Web access is also available for those with Internet access. To see a good example of these regional systems, take a look at the New York site (www.511.ny.org).