Senators Baker and Madigan: New 511 Traveler Information Service Would Make Pennsylvania Roads Safer

Seeking to prevent traffic tie ups and make state roads safer, Senators Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Roger Madigan (R-Bradford) have introduced legislation to provide Pennsylvania drivers with access to around-the-clock information about traffic and road conditions through a new 511 Traveler Information Service.

Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Madigan, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, said their legislation would help the Commonwealth to streamline the current traveler call lines, which are operated by the Departments of Transportation, State Police and PEMA. Instead, it would provide one call line with up-to-date information on everything from road conditions to accidents and detours.

“Following the Valentine’s Day Storm this past February, it was determined that the use of multiple phone lines not only created confusion, but also prevented travelers from getting information quickly and accurately,” Baker said. “Adopting the national 511 travel information number will ensure that motorists can make critical decisions about their trips, before leaving home and on the road.”

The proposed legislation would require PennDOT to lead the overall implementation and deployment of the traveler information system in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Turnpike and local entities.

“Twenty-seven states have implemented the service, which is part of a nationwide effort to provide consistent and reliable traveler information. It allows callers to access information about construction activities, weather-related road conditions and critical incidents simply by saying the route or region about which they are seeking information,” said Madigan. “It will go a long way to simplify getting road reports to motorists and help ensure uniform sharing of information from several state agencies,” he added.

“One lesson we learned from the Valentine’s Day storm of 2007 was that providing motorists with timely and detailed information about travel conditions is crucial to public safety,” Baker said. “This new technology will help travelers plan their trips and make more informed decisions when they are driving. Most importantly, it will contribute to safer driving conditions.”

The Federal Communications Commission designated 511 as the national traveler information phone number in July 2000, in response to a 1999 U.S. Department of Transportation petition.

The national 511 project has documented that regions with traveler information systems report improvements in roadway efficiencies, air quality, and traveler safety.

CONTACT:

Lee Ann Labecki (717) 787-7428
Craig Shuey (717) 787-3280