ST. PAUL, Minn. – Motorists using the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 511 traveler information system this winter have several new features to help them know what the state’s road conditions are before they venture out on the roadways.
“Overall, the 511 traveler information system is getting better each year and more people are using it,” said Kelly Braunig, 511 program manager. “These new features will help the traveling public make good decisions about winter travel.”
She said one million more motorists used the mobile app from the 2014-15 to the 2015-16 winter seasons. There were also significant increases in the number of users on the truckers’ and full-featured web pages.
Some of the new features this winter are:
· Personalize Your 511 – Motorists can enter up to 20 routes they travel to see where incidents, such as crashes or construction, are located. Users can also click on a specific incident to see a camera view. This is available on the full-featured and truckers’ pages.
· Smart 511 – This is the same as Personalize Your 511, but for a smartphone. Motorists sign up online and then enter their phone number to receive information.
· Citizen Reporting – Motorists can submit driving conditions to the 511 system along a saved route. To use this function, users have to have an account through the “Personalize Your 511” feature. Users take a short online course to get registered. Motorists are advised to report driving conditions after they reach their destination. This is available on the full- featured site, but soon will also be on the truckers’ site.
· Tell Me – Motorists receive hands-free and eyes-free audio notifications on their smartphones about traffic conditions. Users download and open the app before they start driving. The feature uses motorists’ GPS information.
· Traffic Delay – On the traffic map, there is now an orange glow around an icon when there is a traffic delay due to a crash, construction or other traffic-slowing incidents. When users click on the orange glow, information will be provided on delays, travel times and direction of the delay. This is currently available only for interstate driving and shows a delay within two miles in each direction of an incident. This feature is on the truckers’ and full-featured sites.
· Road Weather Information System Alert – On the full-featured and truckers’ sites, motorists will see a red triangle over a weather station icon when weather conditions such as fog, high winds, rain, ice and snow exist.
Most of the features are beneficial for winter driving, but they can also be used year-round.
Braunig encouraged people to go to www.511mn.org to check out how the site and features work. The mobile device app is free to download.