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Thanks to Zach Behrens for breaking the story on Google Maps’s relaunch of traffic detail on major streets!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (yes, this merits 10 exclamation points.)

For the past couple of years, green commuters who wanted to figure out the least congested way to travel used websites like Sigalert.com (my mother Charlene’s favorite, since it reports average travel speed too) or Google Maps’s traffic view. But you could only get detail for highways and major roads that are classified as highways, like Lincoln/PCH and Santa Monica.

Today, this is no longer the case. Check it out at www.maps.google.com.

You may ask how is this possible? Many major streets in LA have sensors underground to detect the presence and volume of vehicles; this, in turn, dictates the traffic signal diagram used for each intersection. But according to my web research, it turns out that users are! Tom Kraznit at CNET reports that these maps also depend upon speed data generated from commuters who have “My Location” activated on their GPS-activated smartphones (iPhone excepted).

To mitigate privacy concern, Dave Barth, a Google Maps product manager, wrote this:

“We understand that many people would be concerned about telling the world how fast their car was moving if they also had to tell the world where they were going, so we built privacy protections in from the start. We only use anonymous speed and location information to calculate traffic conditions, and only do so when you have chosen to enable location services on your phone.”

Google also deletes the data it collects about the starting point and ending point of your journey, and has a way to figure out if you’re at your destination or simply stuck in traffic (a point for further study.)

Meanwhile, check out this map I created, which shows traffic detail for Beverly Glen and Mulholland Drive, an intersection I drove past earlier today in my carpool (yes, I carpooled – but that’s for another entry.)

Never leave home before checking the traffic on Google Maps