If you’re planning a long journey of more than a few minutes, it may well pay you to check ahead that there are no problems on the roads. For all that modern Sat Nav systems, and local radio travel news can keep you up to date once you’re in the car, there are many web services available, which are hundreds of pounds cheaper than a Sat Nav system with traffic capabilities and more comprehensive in coverage than your local radio station.
The main choices for UK coverage are:
- BBC Travel News – lists all the counties for local reports, or you can view an interactive map of the UK. Also has live webcams for the usual traffic hotspots as well as public transport info, and loads of links to other useful info.
- Highways Agency Traffic England, Traffic Scotland, Traffic Wales – less detailed than the other sites, particularly in regard to the exact positions of problems. Their Trafficmap site might also be useful for those undertaking long motorway journeys, you can get a junction by junction update on what’s happening, current average speeds, weather conditions and even what warnings individual motorway signals are displaying.
- AA Roadwatch – good coverage from national down to regional level. You can also search by indivdual main roads. The interactive maps showing colour coded traffic flow information are a great tool, although some colourblind users may have trouble with the similar tones of red & green used. You can also set up an SMS alert covering your journey and they’ll text you if something comes up once you’ve set off.
- RAC Traffic News – a little basic compared to the others but what is there is done well.
- GetMeThere (Link Removed) – from Toyota, has a very impressive mapping service, but information on the delays is somewhat cryptic (there does not appear to be a key to their symbols either) and the information seems a little patchy, especially outside of London.
If you set out on a long journey without checking at least one of these services, then you’ll only have yourself to blame if you find yourself stuck in a huge tailback with your Sat Nav screaming at you to drive in circles!