Highway traffic monitoring and reporting has come a long way since the days of roadside police reports, TV news helicopters and traffic cams. Those tools along with more modern sensors are still in use, but for the unaware, the data sets that factor into snapshots and time-summary views of traffic patterns have exploded exponentially.

What has or will soon change your drive-time experience is that traffic data is increasingly collected through the GPS systems sold through auto manufacturers and truck fleets, and even more through the cellular phones in the pockets of commuters. With sophisticated algorithms that calculate the "handoffs" of cell phones as they pass from one transmission tower to the next, it is now possible for service providers (who strike agreements with telco and fleet providers) to predict origin and destination information, speeds, slowdowns and even accidents based on the data. 

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