ITD will soon launch Idaho’s 511 traveler information service, using state-of-the-art technology to provide road and weather information by phone and Internet.
Travelers can connect to the service by calling three easy-to-remember digits (5-1-1) or logging on to 511.idaho.gov for continual updates about winter driving conditions, weather, emergency road closures, traffic delays, links to tourism information and more.
“The new 511 service is part of a department-wide effort to improve safety, using technology to provide reliable information for travelers,” says Greg Laragan, ITD’s Assistant Chief Engineer. “A well-informed motorist will make smarter travel decisions, which will result in safer travels.”
The service will begin in November, coinciding with the beginning of ITD’s winter road reports.
The new system will allow for updates when conditions change, versus waiting until the next scheduled report. And it will take only minutes for the information to make its way from the snowplow cab to the public Web site and phone system.
The system also draws data from other agencies, such as the National Weather Service, using automated technology.
“If other states’ experiences are any kind of forecast for Idaho, we expect the switch to a three-digit number to dramatically increase call volumes for people seeking traveler information,” Laragan says. “Other 511 services have reported that calls jumped by 53 percent during the first year of operation.”
A cooperative effort
Idaho’s 511 is made possible through the cooperation of the Idaho Transportation Department, Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor, Idaho State Medical Services Bureau Communications Center, Idaho State Police, the Federal Highway Administration and the Ada County Highway District.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Intelligent Transportation Society of America and American Public Transportation Association are leading the effort to make the service nationwide.
Information about 511 across the country is available at www.deploy51.org.
Training sessions are being scheduled in each district and policies for reporting procedures are in final stages. The phone and interactive Web system also are being tested.
Watch this space for more information about the 511 system, how it works, how it benefits travelers and what it means to you.