The Traffic News Just Where You Need It

Tired of sitting in stalled traffic on your way to and from the office each day? Ever wonder why you can't get up-to-the-minute reports on traffic congestion, accidents, or road construction--instead of those radio spots that run every 15 minutes and always seem to be hours old, never covering your part of town?

Hang in there. A group of companies--including IBM, Seiko, and Delco Electronics--are working with state and federal agencies in the Seattle area to change all that. Over the next two years, the Seattle Consortium for Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems Technologies will test a system that beams traffic information over FM radio waves to such electronic devices as wristwatch pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and a new type of car radio that can display data on a screen. IBM plans to program its Simon PDA to receive the information and link it with maps showing your location and alternate traffic routes. If the system proves workable, it could find use in other traffic-choked areas. Now, if only it could find you a parking space.