Three Apps that Help Drivers Avoid Traffic Jams

September 2, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. route (n.) [root, rout] – the path or way that a person, animal, or object takes to get to another place
Example: I was late for the event because I accidentally took a long route that included a walk across the park.

2. icon (n.) [ahy-kon] – [in computers] a symbol or picture that represents something
Example: People can share information by clicking Facebook and Twitter icons on websites.

3. traffic jam (n.) [traf-ik jam] – a situation where cars on a road have stopped moving or are moving very slowly
Example: In Singapore, traffic jams are not a big problem because  few people own cars.

4. take (something) to another level (idiom) [teyk (suhm-thing) tuh uh-nuhth-er lev-uhl] – to improve something greatly
Example: GPS systems have taken travelling by car to another level.
5. alternative (adj.) [awl-tur-nuh-tiv, al-] – different from the usual or traditional way
Example: The road I usually pass was being fixed, so I took an alternative road going to work.

Read the text below.

In Europe and the US, drivers are using apps on their smartphones to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

One app, called “Waze”, is free and gives turn-by-turn driving directions and information about the traffic situation on a route, as posted by other Waze users.

Drivers with the Waze app are represented by different icons, and their movement and locations are viewable by other Waze users. Based on the movement of these icons, Waze users can see whether traffic is clear ahead or whether there is a traffic jam.

The problem with Waze is that it works best when there are many Waze users in the same area. If only a few Waze users are in the area, Waze will not have enough useful data 

Another free app named “Inrix” solves this problem by gathering data not only from its users, but also from traffic reports by public organizations and transportation companies.

In addition, the Inrix app assigns colors to roads according to traffic condition, such as green for no traffic and red for a bad traffic jam. However, unlike Waze, Inrix does not offer turn-by-turn driving directions.

“TomTom HD Traffic” is another app similar to Waze and Inrix. But TomTom takes the competition to another level. If TomTom learns about a traffic problem along the driver’s   current route, the app will suggest a different route. It can even tell the user how many minutes can be saved using the alternative route. The only disadvantage of TomTom is that it is not free.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think apps like Waze, Inrix, or TomTom are becoming very popular? Would you want to use apps like them?
·         What can people and the government do to lessen traffic in cities?

Discussion B

·         Tell me about a helpful software or app that you often use. Why do you think it is helpful to you?
·         If you could invent a mobile phone app, what would it be and how would it work?

September 2, 2012