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3 Systems, 3 Routes, 3 Outcomes: Finding The Right GPS System For Your Needs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- You probably wish your morning commute had no delays and no traffic, just a straight shot to the office.

But, in fact, for most of us, the commute looks more like red brake lights, stop and go, and sometimes traffic even coming to a complete halt.

Nationally, commuters spend at least 30 to 40 hours a year in traffic. That's almost an entire work week.

So how do you get around the traffic? Most drivers these days use some type of GPS, or Global Positioning System, for either directions or as a way to avoid traffic.

Fitness Studio trainer, Dean Watson prefers using the system that came on his cell phone.

"I use Google Maps, 'cause it's right on my phone. It's easy," he says.

But how do you pick the best system for you? And does "easy" mean the fastest and best way to avoid that rush hour gridlock?

Well, KDKA decided to find out by comparing three different navigation systems - all traveling from Moon Township to the KDKA Studios on a busy Thursday morning.

So here's how we did it - we picked three cars. Dean drove his own car and used Google Maps. KDKA-TV News Managing Editor Corey Martin drove KDKA's Mobile Weather Lab and used the factory-installed GPS system. KDKA's Lynne Hayes-Freeland drove a third car, using the Waze app.

Each system took the driver on a different route, leaving from Fern Hollow Road in Moon Township.

Initially, it looked like Lynne was going to come straight to downtown using the Parkway (I-376), but Corey and Dean were directed through the heart of Coraopolis.

Dean said he hit a lot of traffic in Coraopolis.

"Takes about, feels like five hours to get through Coraopolis – a lot of lights and a lot of construction," Dean said.

Corey was surprised when traffic was restricted to one lane.

"I took Thorn Hill Run Road, down to Coraopolis, and then through Coraopolis. Then, the two-lane street, 51 was down to one lane," he said.

While Dean and Corey's vehicles were delayed, Lynne was breezing right along on the Parkway.

"So far so good," she said. "There hasn't been a lot of traffic, but on the Parkway where you get backed up is Carnegie and Green Tree Hill."

But then, things changed.

Coming out of Coraopolis, Corey and Dean were sent two different directions. For Dean, it's Interstate 79 North, then over to Route 65. For Corey, it's I-79 onto 376 - the Parkway.

At no point did any of the three drivers see each other on the commute downtown. Corey noted he had not seen Lynne or Dean, unaware that Lynne was well ahead of him.

"So far, I have yet to see Lynne's car or Dean's," Corey said. "So, I am not sure where they are in relation to me."

Even though Lynne had been cruising right along, predictably, traffic backed up at the top of Green Tree Hill. Waze alerted her that there was a delay ahead, sending the vehicle off the Parkway and onto Greentree Road. (A route that didn't seem to make sense).

But it worked, sending Lynne down through the West End of town avoiding the standstill traffic on Green Tree Hill, which is where Corey got stuck, coming to a complete halt. His factory-installed GPS never changed courses from there, even though he asked for the "fastest" route.

While those two were diverted, Dean continued his cruise into downtown on Route 65.

No traffic, no delays, Dean – who was using Google Maps on his cell phone, arrived at the KDKA-TV Studios a full five minutes before Lynne using the Waze system.

As for Corey, his factory-installed system came in dead last. It was a full 15 minutes behind Dean and 10 minutes behind Lynne.

Although not a perfect science, three systems, three routes and three different outcomes.

Dean said he learned a new route, as did Lynne. Corey decided next time he would follow his instincts.

First Place: Google Maps
Second Place: Waze
Third Place: Factory-installed GPS

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