Local News

Raleigh To Add 511 Number For Traffic Updates

Posted April 14, 2003 3:45 a.m. EDT

— The Department of Transportation says it'll have a 511 system operating statewide by the end of the year.

Like 411 for phone numbers and 911 for emergencies, 511 would be for road updates.

To people who come around a curve only to happen upon a crash they didn't know about and get stuck in traffic, the DOT says a 511 system is the answer.

In 14 states, drivers can dial 511 and get voice-activated, recorded road updates. Eleven states have no 511 no plans to add it. North Carolina is one of 24 states that are working on it.

"The primary goals are to give the public travel information, so they can make better plans and make the highways and transit safer in that sense," said DOT engineer Roberto Canales. "The other goal is to try to address emergency information."

Along with updates on accidents, 511 would also have updates on construction projects, traffic shifts or lane closures.

DOT officials said they don't want drivers distracted when they call 511. So, drivers will be urged to call before they leave or pull over if they're using their cell phone.

The transportation management center in West Raleigh is one of 10 statewide locations that would provide 511 updates. DOT workers and the Highway Patrol would provide the information.

Keeping fresh information three digits away won't be cheap. Officials say the 511 number will cost the state approximately $1 million a year.