But now ABC7 has a new, exclusive tool to bring you real-time updates of all the road conditions and travel alerts. And you can help. It's called Waze, and here's how it works.
Waze is a free app you can download on your iPhone, iPad, Android or other smart phone. It tells you where traffic jams are, how to get around them and gives you alerts, like construction zones and accidents, all in real time.
Waze gets that information from you, the driver, as you drive. The app uses your GPS signal when you drive with the app open and generates real-time traffic conditions based on that information. And the more people who use Waze, the better the information.
"It's 100 percent a community, and people know that all they have to do is open the application and drive with it, and they're contributing to the information that everybody else gets," said Di-Ann Eisno, Waze vice president.
Besides the real-time traffic information, Waze also provides you with free, turn-by-turn voice navigation based on the live conditions on the road.
"I love it, I love it a lot. It's very user friendly," said Reggi Lockhart, ABC7 traffic producer and Wazer. "It really helps out a lot, especially when you're driving. You don't have to look at it, you can just drive and listen to it."
And a new version of the app for iPhone users gives you a hands-free experience. All you need is your voice. The new feature also understands commands such as "drive home" and "drive to work," so you don't have to touch the screen to use the navigation feature.
And don't worry, you can keep your username anonymous or create one that doesn't identify you. So your privacy is always protected.
And for your safety, Waze does not allow you to enter text or give reports while your car is moving because texting while driving is illegal. But when you're parked or have a passenger in the car, you can report incidents, like traffic jams, accidents, construction zones, even take pictures for other Wazers to see.
So how do you get the free Waze app? It's easy. You can go to the app store on your iPhone, iPad or the Android marketplace and download it for free. Or you can check out our Waze page at abc7chicago.com. Once you download the Waze app, join our group "ABC 7 Traffic Trackers."