Growing congestion on our nation's roads results in wasted time and fuel, which adversely affects the economy and the environment. State and local government agencies and private companies disseminate real-time traffic information to help travelers decide whether to use alternative, less congested routes. Legislation enacted in 2005 required the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish the Real-Time System Management Information Program, in order to provide states the capability to monitor traffic and travel conditions on major highways and share that information. As requested, this GAO report addresses, among other things, (1) how the public and private sectors disseminate real-time traffic information to the public, (2) actions DOT has taken to establish the Real-Time System Management Information Program, and (3) experts' views on the need for a nationwide real-time traffic information system and its potential characteristics. To conduct this study, GAO visited sites in California and Florida, which have well-developed traffic information systems; reviewed and analyzed DOT reports and data; and interviewed transportation officials, experts, and other stakeholders. GAO is not making any recommendations at this time because DOT has not finalized the proposed rule it issued in January 2009, and there was no consensus from the experts GAO interviewed as to whether an increased federal role in this area is appropriate or what this role might be.
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