Using statistics to beat traffic

This is great: Brandon Hansen at Omninerd decided to crunch some statistics on how long it takes him to commute to work, to see if there was some hidden way to shorten his drive. Sure enough, he discovered a few secret sweet spots in his local traffic, which are charted above. As he concluded:

Given the above data and analysis, what can be done to improve my commute times? Changing my morning or evening departure time looks promising. The best bet appears to be moving my schedule out a half-hour to 8:30AM and 6:00PM, bringing significant savings (about 7.5 minutes of commute time per day) without getting too far from normal business hours. Spread out over 50 work weeks, that results in a total savings of over 30 hours a year — the equivalent of about a 38% boost to my existing 80 hours of vacation.

Here’s an idea for Detroit’s ailing Big Three: Why don’t our onboard car computers do this sort of thing automatically? They could spend a few weeks recording when your daily commute begins and when it ends, mix in some GPS telemetry, crunch it with a bit of Mapquest data and presto: A customized drive agenda, produced by automobile A.I.!

(Thanks to the J-Walk blog for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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