Rethinking rush hour

Monday, October 10, 2011 - 12:45pm

For those of you about to hit the road and make that dreaded morning commute to work, here's something you might like hearing:

Plans are being tested to ease the congestion everybody faces at rush hour, and one of the best solutions is right there on your smartphone.

In IBM's annual commuter pain survey, 41-percent of respondents said traffic has gotten worse and nearly 70 percent said that because of it, so has their health.

Experts say 30-percent of traffic congestion in cities can be attributed to people searching for parking spots.

In San Francisco, cellphone GPS is being used to track commuting habits of volunteers with the idea of soon having improved "traffic alert" apps.

"So, this is almost the equivalent of telling you 'Chris, it's going to rain, you need to take an umbrella' but only for traffic and in a much more sophisticated way," says IBM's Vinodh Swaminathan.

Technology's not the only way to unclog a highway, though.

Traffic snarls are now rare in stockholm, sweden.

What the Swedes did was simply turn main roads into and out of stockholm during rush hour into toll roads, which experts say is something U.S. cities should consider.

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