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App Spotlight: Avoid Gridlock with Inrix Traffic

This freebie just keeps getting better, with features like Comparative Traffic and One-Tap Reporting

Unless you're lucky enough to telecommute, you probably spend a ton of time in your car. There's the trip to and from work, the lunch meetings, the visits to client offices, and so on.

Needless to say, traffic is probably your worst enemy. (Second-worst: gas prices.) If only you had some magic tool that could monitor and even predict the traffic along your route.

The Inrix Traffic app for Android, iOS, and, now, BlackBerry is that magic tool. It provides real-time traffic data for your area, complete with accidents, construction, and other delay-causing events.

Even better, it can forecast the length of the delay, which is fantastic for those times when you're trying to decide if you should hop off at the next exit or just wait it out.

The latest version, 3.6 (for Android and iOS only; the BlackBerry version is currently a 3.0 release), includes a feature called Comparative Traffic, which shows you the differences between the current and normal traffic conditions.

On the map, roads moving more slowly than usual are marked with a thick black line, while those moving faster have a light-blue one. The idea here is to help you quickly spot and avoid problem areas.

Another great addition: one-touch reporting, which allows you to transmit the latest road conditions just by tapping a large onscreen button. This crowd-sourced reporting is one of Traffic's greatest strengths, as it helps make the real-time data as accurate as possible.

The app also has a feature called Unlock From Me, meaning you can finally check the traffic conditions in other areas, not just the immediate vicinity. That's mighty handy.

Amazingly, Inrix Traffic is still free. I've used it countless times to preserve my sanity in stop-and-go gridlock. If you own a smartphone and a car, I'd say it's a must-have app.

(Just please, please don't use it while your car is moving. Let a passenger check the maps, or wait until you're stopped. You already know how dangerous it is to text and drive; monitoring a traffic app is no different. The car you rear-end could be, well, mine.)

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