Traveling Idaho’s Roads This Winter? Know Before You Go!

When you are traveling in Idaho this winter, looking for the perfect powder or a favorite snow tube hill, you might want to take a look at Idaho’s 5-1-1 Program before you hit the road.  5-1-1 is a public service offered by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the Idaho Department of Commerce Division of Tourism.  It gives travelers access to  information about travel conditions and road closures, weather, and tourism information via the phone (dial 5-1-1 or 1-888-432-7623), the web (511.idaho.gov), and mobile web applications.  Information is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to users.

New options this year allow drivers to tailor reports to their needs.  At 511.idaho.gov (New User, Start Here in upper right corner), drivers may register for a free account and will have the option of receiving direct reports for preferred routes through email, text messages or Twitter.  They also can choose a statewide option that delivers information about road blockages or closures and active Amber Alerts.

“Improvements to the system allow direct delivery of information, based on what drivers need, when they need it, and how they need it,” explains Tony Ernest with ITD and manager of the system. “At the same time, we remind drivers that Idaho has enacted a new texting law. It is unsafe, and now illegal, to check mobile devices while driving in the state of Idaho.”

Travel is meant to be fun and the 5-1-1 system is designed to improve safety.  As a result, motorists are encouraged to check conditions before operating a vehicle or to entrust a passenger with the task. When calling 5-1-1, users that select the Tourism Information option (option 5 in main menu) will be routed to the Idaho Tourism office and will be assisted by staff during business hours, Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 5:00pm.

ITD joins only Minnesota and Iowa on the CARS (Condition Acquisition Reporting System) coalition that offer automated Twitter feeds. Idaho’s system is continually evolving and improving, Ernest says.  It remains one of the most robust, feature-laden systems in the country.

Visitors to the Web site will find two bandwidth options: The low-bandwidth site that may be best for users who access the Web through dial-up connections, or a high-bandwidth version for high-speed Internet users. Both sites offer maps and a list of available features, as well as images from more than 130 roadside cameras so travelers can learn about the highway conditions on Idaho’s mountain passes.

A mobile website is available for customers using “Smartphone” mobile devices. Type 511.idaho.gov in the address bar and the Web site automatically redirects all phones to the mobile website.  When clicking on Tourism Information, visitors are directed to the state’s tourism Web site, www.visitidaho.org, for information on attractions, events and lodging.

For more information on the ITD’s 5-1-1 Program visit 511.idaho.gov.  For Idaho visitor information and travel ideas, please go to www.visitidaho.org or call       1-800-Visit-ID to request an Idaho Travel Guide.  Safe travels!