Posted August 2, 2007 10:19 am by with 9 comments

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If you’ve ever asked for directions in California, don’t ever judge your journey by the number of miles. Most Californians know that you determine the length of a journey by the time it takes, not the distance. For example, if you plan a trip during rush hour, your 5 mile journey in the Bay area could take 45 minutes.

Fortunately, Google’s based in California, so the developers at Google Maps are very much aware that time is just as important as miles. Now when you use Google Maps for major metropolitan areas around the country – those most likely to suffer from congestion – you’ll get an estimate of how long the trip could take in heavy traffic.

Let’s say you want to leave from Berkeley to catch the sunset from the beach at Half Moon Bay, to relax on the sand and watch the sun sink into the Pacific. We all know Google Maps will tell you how to get there. Now it’s better at helping you decide when to leave to catch your sunset on time. When you ask Google Maps for driving directions, the directions say “about 59 minutes”. But they also say something new: “up to 1 hour 50 minutes in traffic”.

Google has already added real time traffic data to certain cities, but now you can at least plan how long exactly your trip could take, if traffic is at a crawl.


  • Wow that will be really useful for my buddy who lives out in San Fran and has to make that exact trip every day.

  • Thats a great feature especially when you have to get somewhere at rush hour.

  • It’s nice that someone finally tries to estimate the time traffic takes. I took a roadtrip to San Fran a couple of years back and it was supposed to take something like 6 hours of driving on our last day to get there. Due to the incredible amount of traffic (had never been to California before) it took us right at 10 hours. It was insane.

  • Now this is very cool. I’ve never lived in California, but having grown up in New York it really isn’t about the miles.

    Does anyone know how accurate Google’s traffic reporting is?

  • This is truly a major advancement. Having lived in the LA area my entire life, the actual distance that you are going to travel has little impact on the amount of time it will take to get to your destination. Traffic is the true determinant, with the number of miles being secondary. To think that Google maps has now added real time traffic data is a true advantage for those of us who must face traffic on a daily basis. I can’t wait to put it to the test myself!

  • So true, this: “Most Californians know that you determine the length of a journey by the time it takes, not the distance.”

    I’m travelling from Pasadena to Marina Del Rey tonight for a WITI event, and although I know the trip is about 30 miles and estimated 40 min drive time, I *always* double it for traffic! For the record, the new Maps feature says “up to 1 hr 40 mins in traffic” for this journey.

    I do think this is useful, but for most people who already account for traffic in their travel times, maybe not. And it seems that it’s not real-time traffic reporting, just a note about “could take up to… in traffic.” However, there is a “traffic” button on the map itself, so you can (I assume) see the realtime traffic! And there’s always good ol’ as well 🙂

  • Paul

    I tried this feature on just now for 2 trips: local san diego and SAN to LAX. Neither search returned “up to xx in traffic” result.

  • It’d be nice for them to make some updates on some of the other countries (say Argentina) instead of giving the locals all the gimmicks.

    My humble opinion. v_v

  • This is a good step. Google should try and sync up with too so you can check speeds of the various roads.