Will Google Maps increase traffic?

Using Google Maps, you can find the shortest route to drive from point A to point B. This will certainly be true if there is no traffic on the road. However, during rush hour, should you trust the Google Maps (or Mapquest or Yahoo) directions? If people increasingly rely on Google Maps for directions, this may decrease the variance in routes taken and thus concentrate traffic in certain highways. For most worker’s daily commute, people often experiment on the fastest ways to get to work, so reliance on online tools for directions to the office may be mild.

What about sporting events or concerts? This type of travel is both infrequent (from the drivers point of view) and causes a lot of traffic. Unlike your daily commute to work, drivers are relatively uninformed of the quickest means to travel to a stadium or concert venue. Thus, many of these people may rely on online software to map their route. If Route A is faster on average than Route B on a typical day, it may actually be the case that Route B is faster during sporting events when Route A is congested with traffic. Thus, it may pay to ignore Google Maps when other people pay attention to it.

…then again, Google Maps has traffic info too. What hasn’t Google thought of yet?

1 Comment

  1. I don’t own a car GPS unit, but did rent one on a recent business trip that involved a lot of driving in urban southern California. It was a choice that I’m definitely glad I made. One thing that occurred to me is that it may give more people the means to experiment with alternate routes, since the device will quickly recalculate a new solution if you divert from your original route. Traffic jam ahead? Go ahead and try that exit you’ve never taken– your GPS will keep you from getting lost.

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