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A nationwide map of traffic jams

It's a map of the mess.

DAVIS, Calif.--A lot of time gets wasted in traffic.

Americans lose 3.7 billion hours a year in traffic jams, both anticipated jams and unexpected ones, according to Mygistics CEO Michael Ostrom, speaking at the GoingGreen conference taking place here.

Those delays result in 2.7 billion gallons of gas being burned unproductively. And 5.8 billion gallons of gas a year could be saved if Americans chose to work one day a week at home.

Why is Ostrom such a font of national traffic patterns? Because Mygistics is trying to create a dynamic, national-scale traffic model. The company takes data from sensors in the roadway, and cross-checks it against user-submitted data about buying patterns. The company then provides alerts to its trucking customers.

"Take the alternative route and save 10 minutes," he explained.

Delays cost a lot. Expected delays cost trucking companies between $150 to $200 an hour, he claimed. Unexpected delays can cost $400 an hour.

Ostrom didn't explain exactly who is going to put all of the sensors in the nation's freeways, but it's a cool idea nonetheless.