(Tribune News Service) -- There’s probably nothing that will ever unsnarl Miami-Dade’s seemingly endless traffic problems. But a new smart-phone app for androids and iPhones may be able to help you avoid some of them and extricate yourself from others.
Audio Traffic Miami-Dade, which launched this week, provides continuously updated traffic reports and — when practical — suggests alternate routes to avoid snags.
The reports, spoken rather than written so drivers won’t have to look away from traffic to peer at their tiny telephone screens, are available in English and Spanish. They generally last from 30 seconds to two minutes and sound pretty much like radio traffic reports, even including a commercial.
Not surprisingly, Audible Broadcasting Company, the Palm Beach company that designed the free app, started out producing traffic reports for radio stations across the county.
“But people don’t listen to radio the way they used to,” said Audible Broadcasting CEO Roger Koch. “They want the report when they want it, not 20 minutes from now.”
The traffic reports play automatically when the app is clicked. After that, users can also choose to listen to news reports and public-service announcements provided by Miami-Dade County, which partnered with Audible Broadcasting on the launch of the app.
“The county can use it for emergency announcements — say, maybe there’s a sewer problem and they want to tell people to boil their water — or warnings about a crime situation or a government initiative,” Koch said.
On Wednesday, the announcements included news of a murder arrest as well as a plug for the county’s 311 service centers. The traffic reports focused on the West Dade freeway chaos wrought by President Barack Obama’s visit to Florida International University.
Miami-Dade is the fourth Florida metropolitan area to get an Audio Traffic app; over the past year, the service has debuted in West Palm Beach, Tampa and Jacksonville. Versions for Broward and Orlando are coming soon.
“There are other apps, like Google Maps, that deliver some traffic information,” Koch said. “But they don’t offer alternate routes, and they aren’t audio. Our idea was to get a safer product on the road, one that delivers traffic information without contributing to more accidents.
“When you talk to police officers, they’re very frustrated about distractions to drivers. Around the country, nine people are killed every day in accidents caused by distractions. We wanted something that wouldn’t require people to hold their phones in front of their faces.”
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