questionsgps users: is traffic worth it?

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Not in my opinion. Of course, standalone GPS units aren't worth the money anymore in my opinion. Save yourself the hassle and money - get a dash mount for your smartphone and use Google Maps.

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I love it but I periodically travel congested highways. I like knowing where the traffic problems are and getting steered around them. Sometimes Gabby (my Garmin) will have me exit and take the frontage road to avoid some traffic but most of the time I find it would have been faster just to stay on the freeway. Other than that, I'm good with it.

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I'll second what @tctk1044: said that traffic nor stand alone units are worth it. But I disagree with google maps. I hate it, even on the iPhone 5. Spend $40 and get the TomTom app. They'll never stop upgrading it and you'll never end up needing a new one because your software/firmware is too old to update (except for the phone of course).

EDIT: I drive on highly congested highways every day but there no other way home for me. Maybe if I drove alot on business to check the route ahead.

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Not worth it! I had a free trial for the traffic on my TomTom about 3 years ago or so. I was headed towards Milwaukee from Indianapolis and ran into some complete road closures at about 12am around Gary, IN. Instead of following the posted detour I tried my luck with TomTom redirecting me around the "congestion" before I even hit the detour. Let me start off saying that I've been to some messed up places around the world, but nothing made me feel less safe than the route that TomTom had me take through Gary, IN. I know for a fact I would've saved time and felt a lot safer just following the posted detour.

@thunderthighs: I agree. In most cases an alternate route probably isn't faster, unless your route is completely closed, in which case everybody and their brother will probably be traveling the same detour.

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I used to have the traffic service that came with the XM radio in my car. Listening to a local radio station is going to give you much better traffic alerts. Unless you are in a strange city where you don't know the local stations, and/or you don't know the area well enough to know how best to get around the incidents you do hear about, I wouldn't bother. Of course that is mostly for rush hour. Outside of rush hour when they don't have regular traffic reports I use Google maps, either on my PC before I leave, or on my android phone.

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I personally love my GPS with traffic over my phone but I only use it when I'm travelling to places that I have no idea about their patterns. I just used it down in DC and it had me bypass a lot of traffic but I did notice that it said I was in traffic a few times when in fact I wasn't so I'm not sure which stance to take.

The cost of traffic for the GPS usually is next to nothing with most GPS units now anyway might as well get it.

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@tctk1044: good call on the smart phone. My problem is I'm on a limited data plan and can't afford to up it at this point. Does the GPS function eat up data quickly?

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You remember when you entered this question, it prompted you that it was similar to previously-asked questions? Yeah, that's cause it has been asked and answered already. Multiple times.

That said, my answer is still Waze.

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@oo7slice: The GPS part doesn't use data at all. All the maps are downloaded straight to your smartphone. The traffic on the other......I'm not sure, I'd think it would have to, but I don't know.

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I love the traffic when in Chicago. It has help me several times. I'd recommend it if you are in an area that allows for multiple routes. Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas comes to mind, but I'm sure there are many others as well. Probably don't need it in a small town.

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@nmchapma: Google Maps uses data as you use it, it will not cache everything unless you plan ahead.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.navfree.android.OSM.USA

NavFree uses OpenStreetMap which is all offline.

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I like the traffic on "Google Now"... It seems to know when I'm home, and when I may head to some other location (based on searches and other behavior)... it squacks at me when I'm about to leave to say there's a delay on the highway, both in the morning before I leave for work, and again as I'm heading home.

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@zapp brannigan:Your're right, Google maps does use data but I have TomTom on my iPhone and it doesn't. It was about $40 and I've used it for 2 yrs on two phones. I just don't know if TomTom Traffic uses data or not.

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@stile99: I like Waze also. The traffic on my Garmin is usually inaccurate. Waze is updated by users in real time (theoretically)

j5 j5
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If you have ever been stuck on the Cross Bronx you will know it is well worth it.

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@j5: is there a way to use Waze without using data, using offline maps as described with NavFree above?

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@oo7slice: offline modeisnt supported, but it chaches some. The main thing about waze is the live updates, so data plan is kind of a requirement.

j5 j5
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We got stuck in a six-hour traffic jam just south of Atlanta one year. For the next road trip, we had a new GPS with traffic on it. Many of the Garmin models include lifetime travel in the initial price, and even though we don't use or need it often, after six hours on a hot interstate with no nearby restroom, I don't leave home without it.

(I was seriously contemplating offering the folks in the next lane -- the ones driving a humongous RV -- $20 for use of their bathroom.)

And may I point out that I can get satellite reception for my Garmin in areas where are no bars for my not-smart-phone.

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@thunderthighs: We call ours Madame Garmina: sees all, knows all, tells all. Usually.

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Thanks all! I'm going to try NavFree for a little while and see how that does (sans traffic). Sounds like traffic is hit or miss depending on where you live. I definitely like the idea of using my smartphone instead of buying a secondary unit, but I didn't know, up until this thread, that there were some available that don't use data (I had assumed that using the GPS function used data...smartphone newbie).

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The main issue comes in two fold:
1) GPS quality: Standalone GPS units are definitely better, of which Garmin is one of the best; but cell phone app options suffer due to GPS signal issues with most smartphones, and
2) traffic updates which relies on certain networks in place to maintain the updates. Garmin has a decent update system in many of the major cities, but lacking in smaller cities where it may be just as useful (like Birmingham AL, Pensacola FL, Des Moines IA, Witchita KS, as some examples). Cell phone based Android apps tend to have better updates for traffic but that also chews into your data plan. Apple apps are very hit and miss, the better ones requiring larger payment for the app up front, or a monthly fee.
If you don't travel much, then a Garmin with the traffic updates should work well in larger cities, and just rely on local radio stations for traffic update. Look for the blue "weather and traffic updates" signs and try those radio stations first.

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For those advocating a smartphone GPS solution, remember, that's probably fine in an urban setting, but for those who frequently drive through remote "middle of nowhere" areas with little or no cellular data reception, a stand-alone GPS is still a better option.