People living in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town can now use Google Maps to avoid traffic congestion.
The traffic application officially launched on Wednesday as part of its roll-out of the service to seven new countries: Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Mexico, Peru, Romania and South Africa.
Regardless of whether you use the internet or your smartphone to get directions, Google Maps will give you the time (for example 52 minutes) that it should take you to reach your destination, given the current traffic conditions.
Turning on the “Traffic” function in the top right corner of Google Maps will also allow people to monitor heavy areas of slow traffic, and weigh up the best route options to avoid congestion.
Roads with smoothly flowing traffic are shown in green, slightly slower routes are yellow, and no-go areas are red.
Dave Barth, product manager at Google Maps, explained the technology on Google’s official blog (googleblog.blogspot.com), saying that Google utilised the GPS data of thousands of smartphone users -who already had Google Maps installed on their phones – to gauge traffic conditions in real time.
Users can check traffic conditions by visiting the Google Maps website and clicking on the traffic layer in the widget on the upper right-hand side of the map. Traffic information is also available on Google Maps for mobile devices and Google Maps Navigation.
“If the roads you are traveling do not yet show traffic information, don’t despair,” wrote Google Maps software engineer Matthias Ernst in a blog post. “You can help your fellow drivers and improve traffic data by using Google Navigation or Google Maps for Mobile while traveling.”