In order to understand how GPS traffic works, we’re going to take a moment to make sure you understand how GPS works. To keep it simple, the Global Positioning System (GPS) contains 24 satellites that send data to GPS receivers (such as your GPS device or cell phone); allowing them to calculate not only exactly where you are but how fast you are moving, destination timelines and so on.
Traffic data suppliers collect data from many different locations. There are sensors placed on roadways that pick up car speeds as well as calculate how many cars are passing through. Some companies are paid to have tracking devices placed in their cars (especially cab drivers or truck drivers) to maintain a good amount of data coming in all around the area. GPS systems located in your car that are turned on, as well as the ones that you may be using on your cell phone also send out data that is very helpful in keeping up with traffic speeds and so forth.
Of course, not all roads are covered by these traffic updates, especially if you are living in a rural area. This whole technology is constantly being worked on and while it’s nowhere near perfection at this time; it’s definitely helpful when you are in an unfamiliar area and do not know alternative routes to avoid various situations.
There are three main ways the traffic information gets to your GPS receiver. The first way is through a wireless data system. This system takes all the traffic information collected near your current location and sends it directly to your GPS. Secondly, there is what’s called ‘Silent Transmittion’ through FM radio. For this to work there must either be an FM antenna built into your GPS or one can be connected as a separate piece. Lastly, mobile phone GPS can be used through the internet to download the latest traffic information and send it directly to your GPS. This isn’t as commonly used anymore but is still a method that works.
For the best coverage possible, you want to educate yourself on which companies in your area offer traffic data and which offer delivery services to areas you may be traveling to. There would be nothing worse than having a GPS system that works great where you live but doesn’t work in the areas you travel often; and are unfamiliar with. Would kind of defeat the whole purpose of purchasing a GPS device.
Many of you may be wondering why some GPS systems seem to work better than others if they are all using the same methods to get their information. Well, it all boils down to this: quality. The more money you spend, the more you’re going to get. Now, don’t get us wrong; you don’t need to break the bank but you need a device that can handle keeping up with the signals it is receiving. As always, we advise shopping around, comparing prices and reading customer reviews before purchasing.