ITD unveils new 511 travel information system
ITD formally launched a new statewide travel information service Tuesday that provides updates on winter road and weather conditions, emergency closures and access to tourist information 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
By calling 511 or visiting 511.idaho.gov on the Web, travelers will have access to travel conditions as they change on Idaho’s highways and will receive more timely and accurate information. The new system also includes more than 70 Web cameras located across the state. Idaho 511 will share 576 telephone lines with multiple states, minimizing the chance of callers getting a busy signal during winter storms.
“A well informed motorist travels smarter and travels safer,” said Charles L. Winder, chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board.
Within minutes of road and weather conditions being reported from transportation department snowplows, the information will be updated on both the Web site and telephone system.
“Timely information is critical to making the best travel choices,” Winder added. “Idaho’s new 511 system not only will provide current road and weather conditions, but is free and easy to use.”
The 511 phone system uses voice recognition technology, enabling callers to get information simply by speaking into the telephone. It also enables callers to make selections using the phone keypad.
The 511.idaho.gov site is designed for easy navigation and features clickable maps.
Nineteen mountain passes are included on the site. For each pass, a live camera shot and a “pass report” keep travelers updated on road and weather conditions, the current temperature and any restrictions. The Web site also features links to neighboring states’ traveler information sites.
Calls to 511 are considered local when dialed from a landline phone. Cell phone users are responsible for normal airtime and roaming charges in accordance with their service contracts.
“We encourage motorists to put safety first – ask a passenger to call 511 or call at an appropriate stopping point along the way,” Winder said. “Or, before leaving, call 511 or log onto 511.idaho.gov.”
Most wireless companies in Idaho will connect to 511. In some cases along state borders, Idaho 511 may not work properly, depending upon the cell tower location for that specific call. If this occurs, call 888-IDA-ROAD (888-432-7623) to access the 511 system.
Idaho is the 24th state to provide the 511 service. The voice-response reporting system is part of a national effort that began in 2000 when the Federal Communications Commission assigned 511 for nationwide access to travel information. When traveling in a state that offers 511 service, dialing the number will connect callers to that state’s system.
Oregon, Washington, Montana and Utah also use the system; Wyoming and Nevada are expected to deploy 511 within the next year.
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.