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For the holidays and beyond: INRIX Traffic

Think about the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US and you think of travel to see family and friends, and fighting congested highways and roads. It's a holiday fact of life. Here's a suggestion for a bit of relief: the Inrix Traffic app for iOS. It's free (and no ads) and it provides real-time traffic maps, traffic forecasts, accident and incident reports for every interstate, highway and major arterial and city streets.

Reviews of INRIX traffic products are generally positive, because the data they collect is sourced from long-haul trucks, taxis, delivery vans and commercial fleets, along with the usual consumer input and traffic sensors. The app also has predictive technology that analyzes the hard data, and takes factors like day of the week, weather, accidents and road work, and holiday traffic to figure out what is coming, not just what the current situation is.

The company already predicts that there will be "up to a third less traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday this year compared to 2010," but we'll still see up to a 20% increase in travel times anyway, especially on the last afternoon communte on Wednesday. "Travelers leaving for their holiday weekend combined with commuters heading home from work will result in the evening rush hour peaking an hour earlier than normal with traffic congestion building on the nation's worst traffic corridors starting at 2 p.m. with the average trip taking up to 20 percent longer than normal," says Inrix.

I tried the app around southern Arizona and it worked well, although I'm not in a generally bad area for rush hour. Accidents were noted, and the information was current. The traffic flow maps seemed to reflect current conditions, and you can drag the map around on your iPhone and look at other areas besides your own. I saw the app update with new information several times.

You'll note that the app offers to sell you an extended paid service with additional information and access to traffic cameras, but I thought the free version gave me plenty of what I needed for any trip or commute.

Version 3.5 is the latest planned release, and should appear very soon in the App Store. It has more traffic sources for more roads, and better details on accidents and delays.

Of course some of the Navigation apps have either free or extra-cost traffic information, but INRIX is free, it works, and for many users it is worth a spot on your iPhone. Have safe, and hopefully swift, travels next week during the holiday and don't forget to check out Steve Sande's 5 apps for Thanksgiving post to see other apps you might need on Turkey Day.

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