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Did Technology Speed Your Thanksgiving Trek?

Several months ago, I tried out three Global Positioning System receivers that incorporated real-time traffic data. I was less than impressed with their performance and concluded that other forms of technology worked better:

You might still want other sources -- the radio, highway message signs, a passenger with a smartphone running Google Maps -- to make sure you get where you're going.

For this weekend, we went with that option. When I drove, my wife could check Google's traffic data on a Palm smartphone; when she took the wheel, it was my turn to be the navigator. (This mapping software is also available for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices.) When in doubt, we went with the directions provided by our car's built-in GPS.

That worked out pretty well for us. On Thursday morning, the New Jersey Turnpike congealed into a mass of barely moving metal just before Exit 7 northbound, and Google Maps showed the highway outlined in red -- meaning an average speed of under 25 mph -- for miles to go. So we bailed out at that exit and enjoyed a much more relaxing, almost traffic-free drive along U.S. 130 until we had passed the congestion.

On Saturday night, as the Turnpike slowed down to the usual crawl at "The Merge," Google reported that the highway was only clogged for a short stretch. On that advice, we stuck to the Turnpike instead of jogging all the way over to Interstate 295. After maybe 15 minutes, the traffic had sorted itself out and we experienced no further delays all the way home.

What sort of technology did you use to avoid the worst of this weekend's traffic?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 26, 2007; 9:59 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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I, too, used Google Maps (on my iPhone) on my round-trip trek to Phoenix, from Los Angeles. The drive east wasn't bad, but coming back to LA forced me to find alternative freeways.

Posted by: MAW | November 26, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Having done the Thanksgiving Death Drive more times than I care to remember, we (a family of 4) took the Vamoose Bus from Bethesda to Penn Station on Wednesday evening.

The driver had a TomTom and used it to his advantage by a taking a variety of alternate routes in Delaware (always a mess), then Rte 295 until it comes close to the NJ Turnpike around Fort Lee, at which point he zigged and zagged across NJ to get us close to the city without spending too much time in traffic.

It worked. In the end, the trip took just about 5 hours. A lot less than it would have otherwise.

Posted by: Downtown DC | November 27, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I used the Maryland State Highway map and my memory of past problems when traveling on I-68 eastbound towards Hancock. The traffic had already backed up on I-68 to Exit 77 (Scenic RT 40 and MD RT 144). I took the exit and followed MD 144 through Hancock bypassing 4 to 5 miles of very slow traffic.

Posted by: Nick | November 27, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Sure it did!
But with Microsoft products it seemed longer!

Posted by: steve Ballmer | November 27, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

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