With 36,419 calls during the first week, Tennessee’s new 511 traveler information line is being called a huge success.
“We are extremely pleased with the strong response we are getting with the initiation of Tennessee 511,” said Judy Steele, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Community Relations Division Director. “We made this investment in order to provide a one-stop resource for statewide travel and road conditions. This is a free service for the people we serve and we hope they begin to trust it and depend on it.”
Tennessee 511 was activated at 1:00p.m.on August 14, 2006. The voice-activated system will alert callers to major closures on the interstate, U.S. routes and state routes, weather information, Amber Alerts, links to neighboring state 511 systems, and TDOT’s Record-A-Comment phone line 24-hours a day. The system reports on interstate highways including I-75, I-640, I-40, I-275, and I-140.
“We used it as we drove here (Pigeon Forge) from Asheville,” says Martha Jones of Asheville, North Carolina. “We were trying to decide whether or not we should go into Knoxville, but we didn’t want to sit in traffic. I called the system and found out there was an accident two exists from where we were trying to go so we decided to stop here tonight and go to Knoxville tomorrow. It gave us the information we needed to make our time more enjoyable.”
On average, 217 people call the TN511 per hour. About 90.5% of the callers are seeking traffic information and 13.34% were looking for weather information.
“We used the phone number to call about the weather,” says Tim Scott of Nashville, Tennessee. “The sky was looking very dark and we wanted to know what was going on up ahead. It was very easy to use.”
One complaint users have about the system is that it does not report normal congestion. There has to be an accident or large construction project which is causing an excessive back-up for it to be an incident that is reported on the system.
TN511 was added to the TDOT Smartway (Tennessee’s intelligent transportation system) which provides camera links, traffic information, and weather information to TDOT’s homepage.
Tennessee is the 24th state to participate in the 511 system since the federal initiative began in 2000. The purpose of the system is to give travelers reliable, consistent information while they are on the road.