Motorists encouraged to check 511 system before
Idaho drivers who embark on road trips this holiday season will benefit from a statewide 511 travel information system that provides up-to-date reports and images of highway conditions.
Introduced in 2005, the Idaho 511 system enables drivers to check highway conditions on the Web at 511.idaho.gov and by telephone, both line-based and cellular. The system continues to evolve as Idaho drivers look for tools to help them make wise travel decisions, explains Alison Lantz, manager of the Idaho Transportation Department’s 511 program.
“The system that Idaho travelers can access today has become one of the most sophisticated and robust 511 systems in the country,” she said. “We have made a number of major improvements the past three years to meet the growing demands of Idaho travelers.”
Visitors to the Web site will find two bandwidth options tailored for the speed of their Internet connection.
The low bandwidth site is best suited for people who access the Web through dial-up connections. It features a large map, an event list in geographic order for each route located below the map, and a print option that creates an event list for selected routes.
A high bandwidth option is more suitable for high-speed Internet users because the site is more robust and feature-driven. The high bandwidth site includes an interactive map based on Google Map technology. Users can select from a detailed list of features located in the menu bar on the left of the map.
Visitors to both low- and high bandwidth sites also can check images from more than 130 roadside cameras located throughout the state and can learn of highway conditions on Idaho’s mountain passes.
Both choices are invaluable tools for drivers who want to make safe travel decisions before beginning their trip, Lantz says.
Information is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to users (airtime minutes may be assessed for cell phone users). Reports are updated twice daily during the winter or more frequently as conditions change.
A mobile Web site is available for customers using “smartphone” mobile devices. Users can enter 511.idaho.gov in the address bar, and the Web site automatically redirects all phones to the mobile Web site, which includes route reports and cameras images.
Because the 511 system was introduced to improve the safety of motorists, Lantz emphasizes checking it before leaving home.
“We highly discourage use of the 511 system by people who are behind the wheel. If it is essential to check the Web site, the mobile Web site or use the telephone system during a trip, we urge drivers to pull off the highway at a safe place to make the connection.”
Drivers also can ask a passenger to retrieve information from the Web or phone system while en route.
“Please, don’t wait until you are on the road to check the 511 system or to make your important travel decisions. Our greatest desire is to keep motorists safe while traveling, and the potential for distracted driving is too great if you’re accessing information from behind the wheel.”
Idaho’s 511 program is a public service of ITD and the Idaho Department of Commerce. The service is designed to help travelers access information about travel conditions and closures, weather, and tourism opportunities via the phone (dial 511), the Web (511.idaho.gov), and mobile Web applications.