We get almost every day questions about whether route optimization considers live traffic data. Since this is one of the most frequently asked questions, we thought it’s best to explain in detail what is live traffic data, is it useful for a route planner to consider it and explore all options.
What is traffic data?
Traffic data is information about how travel speeds on specific road segments change over time. It is important in route optimization and in other types of analysis because traffic affects travel time, which has a direct effect on customers. Heavy traffic significantly impacts delivery times. If you’re planning a route from point A to point B, traffic is an important factor to consider. ETAs can greatly differ from reality. And moreover, you might miss routing opportunities that save time.
Read more: ETA or ETD – What is the difference?
When planning the routes for your drivers, a route planner can consider two types of traffic data: historical and live data.
Historic data is based on the idea that there’s a pattern in the course of a week. Therefore, statistically speaking, on any given Monday at 8.00 am, the travel speed of a specific road segment is expected the same as the previous Monday, same hour. Therefore, while traffic might differ from day to day, the pattern repeats weekly.
This model fills in where the historic traffic model falls short, meaning accounting for current traffic conditions. Unlike historical data, live data can wildly deviate from statistics. It’s helpful to know about road closures, accidents, and heavy traffic that can significantly delay deliveries.
Do route planners use live traffic data?
If live traffic data is so helpful in avoiding delays, are route planners using live traffic data to output the routes?
The answer is simply no. Live traffic data is super useful for going from point A to point B, without getting stuck in heavy traffic. But it’s incompatible with a route planner. The reality of multi-stop delivery routing is drivers need to get in time to all stops in a route. And there are many other factors to consider apart from live traffic.
A route planner like Logistia builds your multi-stop routes considering loads of parameters. Two of them are the driver’s working schedule and the order’s delivery interval. The working schedule allows Logistia to calculate how many stops it can fulfill in this timeframe. Live traffic data allows drivers to deviate from the calculated route, resulting in a longer route and longer time on the road. Longer working schedules result in higher operational costs, unsatisfied customers, and more emissions.
The customer’s preferred time slot is another important variable for Logistia. When you optimize the route, the delivery time slots are arranged in the sequence that becomes a route. With live traffic data, any deviation from the pre-built routes can negatively impact the ETA accuracy, resulting in disappointed customers.
What are the options?
So, if live traffic data clashes with multi-stop route optimization, what are the options? Here’s how we at Logistia approach this.
Logistia Route Planner is built for any business that needs to get the best route for the tens, even thousands of stops. Since including live traffic is not the best option for our target customers, we use historical data, based on predictable patterns in the route optimization algorithm.
Some drivers are faster than their colleagues. Therefore, in addition to the historic traffic data, you can customize how the route should be calculated, for each driver individually, based on your better knowledge of the team. Set out the driving speed varying from very slow to very fast.
Finally, traffic is without a doubt a very useful data to consider when planning a vacation or a simple route. But, when planning a route with multiple stops in a typical 8-hour work shift, live traffic data is actually an impediment. To get the best results to meet both drivers’ schedules and customers’ time slots, Logistia Route Planner uses historical data, based on predictable patterns. Moreover, you can set individual parameters for your drivers, such as the driving speed to match the behavior of your team.
Curious to try it out? Start your free trial now and build your first route.