What Is a TomTom Traffic Receiver?

By Anthony Oster

Traffic incidents along your route are identified by hazard and warning signs.
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TomTom produces seveal portable Global Positioning System devices, in addition to built-in navigation systems for use in personal and commercial vehicles. TomTom's GPS devices are equipped to assist with navigating millions of roads throughout the world. The TomTom traffic receiver is an optional upgrade that gathers and reports local traffic incidents, including delays, accidents and road construction.


The TomTom Traffic Receiver is designed to replace your charging cable, providing your device with up-to-date traffic data while simultaneously charging the unit. Installing the Traffic Receiver involves plugging the receiver into your vehicle's cigarette lighter adapter and inserting the mini-USB cord into your TomTom unit. Once installed, place the egg-shaped receiver on the windshield, making sure to not obstruct your view. This receiver is essential for receiving and delivering traffic updates to your device.


The TomTom Traffic Receiver utilizes local FM stations that broadcast the low-frequency Radio Data System-Traffic Message Channel, or RDS-TMC, rather than the GPS satellite information used by your TomTom device. Because RDS-TMS reception is based on radio signals, where you place your antenna, the weather conditions, as well as environmental obstructions such as mountains or tall buildings may impact your service.


After installing the Traffic Receiver, a traffic bar is displayed on your unit during active journeys. Once a journey has been launched from your route planner, tapping the traffic bar displays traffic information that may impact your current trip. Available information can include traffic jams, accidents, detours and other causes of major delays along your route.


To use the TomTom Traffic Receiver, your TomTom device must have the most recent version of the TomTom application installed on it. Updating your TomTom device requires that you download the free TomTom HOME software on your computer. Once installed, connect your TomTom unit to the computer to update your device's software.