Your local radio traffic reporter may be an endangered species.
The number of subscribers to real-time traffic data is quadrupling every year as drivers seek to reduce travel stress. To meet that demand, automakers are signing up traffic information providers such as Clear Channel Radio and Navteq Traffic.
Some vehicles indirectly provide real-time traffic updates by offering satellite radio services that include round-the-clock local traffic reports. Other carmakers' vehicles offer real-time traffic data as part of their navigation systems.
There are about 170,000 total subscribers to traffic data services, according to Telematics Research Group Inc. The Minnetonka, Minn., forecasting company estimates that demand for real-time traffic services, although not at critical mass, will explode in the next five years, attracting 21.5 million subscribers by 2012.
"There's a big breakout in traffic services, and the number of subscribers more than quadruples each year," says Phil Magney, founder and principal analyst at Telematics Research.