Between 8% and 74% of traffic in congested downtown areas is caused by people cruising for parking, according to a report by UCLA professor Donald Shoup who synthesized studies from 70 years of research on the subject. The paper indicates that drivers in major cities — including San Francisco, Sydney, New York and London — spend between 3.5 and 14 minutes searching for a space each time they park. The last study Shoup included in his report ended in 2001. Today, wasted cruising time is likely longer, and it’s on track to get worse. During a recent Ted Talk in March, Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. estimated that the number of cars on the road could go from 800 million to nearly 3 billion by 2050. Ford also shares a solution for avoiding the gridlock that so many cars might cause (and no, it has nothing to do with reducing the number of cars on the road). What he envisions is a world in which cars are connected to each other and to cities, enabling drivers to avoid traffic, calculate exact driving time and efficiently manage parking spaces. While the sci-fi possibilities of Ford’s full vision have yet to be realized, many companies and cities have started implementing smart solutions for parking and traffic problems. What they’re learning in these first steps may help shape the future of smart driving.