There’s nothing more annoying that being stuck in peak hour traffic and not knowing exactly why you’re stuck there. Is it an accident? Roadworks? Oil spill?
Sure, you could listen to those generic radio traffic reports, with the sound of chopper blades whizzing in the background – but they’ve never been detailed enough to cover all the problem areas in big our cities, especially Sydney and Melbourne.
|The magic component - Tomtom's traffic receiver plugs into your Tomtom GPS|
That’s where the TMC (Traffic Management Controller) comes in: it usually comes as an attached accessory that measures about 2 inches – and is plugged into your GPS (if you have a compatible GPS), where it receives data from SUNA’s traffic management network. Keen to avoid those cable hassles? Mio's new top-end model, the Moov 370, incorporates an in-built receiver - but you'll still need to plug a seperate Antenna lead into it.
Garmin are halfway there: in addition to their traffic ready units, they provide an all-in-one cable that incorporates the receiver into the power cable and connects to the car cigarette lighter dock. We'll be happy when all GPS brands adopt a similar built-in method, eliminating cable mess once and for all.
|Garmin's traffic module is an all-in-one job with the receiver and power cable bundled together|
We tested the Traffic Management Controller (TMC) connected to the SUNA traffic network through some of Sydney’s busiest traffic areas for a week to see what the fuss is all about. Our results may surprise you.
How it works
Using the thousands of sensors already installed by road and traffic authorities across the major Australian cities (placed at intersections), this raw unprocessed data is transmitted back to the SUNA control centre, where it is then re-processed using SUNA’s own unique data algorithms.
It is then sent to your GPS, using a silently encoded FM signal that piggybacks on the 106.5FM band (don’t worry; you’ll still be able to listen to Richard Mercer’s
love song dedications while using the service). That’s the simple version.
|Mio's Moov 370 has the traffic receiver built-in - the best solution to avoid cable mess|
The TMC is ready to be used straight out of the box. As soon as the TMC is connected, it will search for a signal from SUNA (usually within seconds) and will actively display the traffic hotspots on your chosen route, if there are any. Thankfully, you don’t need a mobile phone and it doesn’t cost you a cent more; no added data charges are involved.
The only cost to you is the initial purchase of the receiver, which runs at about $150 as an extra accessory on most models or is bundled with the unit (be careful to check that it’s the right model if you choose the bundled option). Every SUNA compatible TMC ships with a lifetime subscription to the SUNA Traffic service.(- Continued on next page - Real world testing)