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Even with accidents, Kirkland company says traffic is predictable

With accidents and imperfect drivers, traffic seems completely unpredictable, but the president of the world's leading provider of traffic information services - which happens to be located in Kirkland - says the flow of traffic can actually be pretty well forecast. (AP Photo/file)

With accidents and imperfect drivers, traffic seems completely unpredictable, but the president of the world's leading provider of traffic information services, which happens to be located in Kirkland, says the flow of traffic can actually be pretty well forecast.

Kirkland-based Inrix provides traffic data for websites, apps, vehicle navigation and TV and radio stations around the U.S. and the world.

Inrix President and CEO Bryan Mistele tells 770 KTTH's David Boze they have over 100 million vehicles and devices reporting back real-time traffic information that is collected and analyzed. Through their study, he says they've found it is definitely possible to give a good prediction of future traffic congestion.

"What we do is we look at dozens of variables, things like what is happening on the road, construction, accidents, planned concerts and sporting events, and all of the different things that influence traffic, and then analyze that together with a whole bunch of data to accurately predict what's happening to traffic," says Mistele.

Even with accidents that pop up out of the blue, Mistele says they can still anticipate delays. "It's fairly predictable depending upon where the accidents happen, how severe they are, and how quickly it takes the DOT to clear them."

Mistele says he received a warning to allow extra time for his commute after the I-5 FedEx crash that blocked the freeway in Seattle on Wednesday.

"I got an alert to my phone 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave saying you need to leave early because it's going to take you 15 minutes longer to get to work today."

Mistele says Inrix is updating information constantly. They then use that pool of data to help them better estimate future events. "This is real-time data, vehicles stuck in traffic, constantly reporting to us, and then we use that to update not only the real-time data, but the predictions as well."

If you're wondering what a specific route should look like June 1 at 4 p.m. Mistele says they can and do make that prediction through their various services, including a free app.

The Inrix Traffic app is what notified Mistele he should expect a 15 minute delay on Wednesday. Boze downloaded the app during the show and plans to test out Mistele's assertion that traffic is really predictable.

"I'm going to put this new app to the test," says Boze.

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About the Author


Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.

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