New options for 511 are geared to keep travelers safer on the road this winter

1b_Delay both directions on Construction event - Filmstrip big view 10-7-16With winter quickly approaching, it’s important to know what tools are available to help you stay safe before driving Iowa’s roads. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s recent Iowa 511 mobile app update and 511 full featured website enhancements can do just that.

Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road

The Iowa 511 mobile app update will more easily inform drivers of Iowa’s road conditions without having to look at their smartphones. Included in the update is the "Tell Me" feature. This feature allows people to get hands-free, eyes-free audio notifications of traffic events while driving. Previously, users had to interact with the app in order to view details about traffic impacts they might encounter on their journey. “Traveler safety is our top priority, and the audio notifications will allow drivers behind the wheel to pay attention to the road and not become distracted by their devices,” said Sinclair Stolle, traveler information program engineer at the Iowa DOT. The feature also has an “I’m a driver” or “I’m not a driver” option so passengers can opt to take charge of the device or allow drivers to check on their drive before they leave.

Tell Me App - My Travel Mode Choice 10-10-16“This hands-free, eyes-free app update is important for drivers because it will allow them to open the app before they start driving, select that they are a driver and just drive,” said Stolle. “The app will announce construction, crashes, or other things happening on the road ahead of them."

Traffic camera images easier to access

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Now, when you are on the full featured version of 511 and click on an event icon on the map you will be able to see a row of real-time images of the event taking place, along with the details for that particular event or winter road condition. Images will only be available if a camera is located nearby, but this new feature will give users a better picture of what's happening. In addition, the event detail box will now change size depending on the size of screen the user is viewing 511 on. That means easier use for those using 511 from a phone or other mobile device.

Another enhancement to the full feature version of the 511 website is the way users will be able to see traffic delays on Iowa DOT routes. If a delay is detected within two miles in each direction of an existing 511 event, an orange glow will show up around the icon and add detailed text about the length and direction of the delay. Currently, this feature is only available on all Iowa Interstates, US 20, US 30, US 218, US 65, and Iowa 141.

2a_Delay event on main map 10-7-16“This new automated feature will allow the user to quickly see an orange glowing icon where Google Traffic™ is detecting delays due to crashes, construction, maintenance, or other events,” said Stolle. “This will help users decide at-a-glance if they want to use the same route or choose a different route to avoid the delay.”

With its sight set to the future, within a couple of months, live streaming video will be added to the 511 app so users can watch real-time traffic in motion on Iowa DOT roads.

For easy access, remember to bookmark on your computer. The app is free to download for Android or iOS devices. If you already have the Iowa 511 app, a simple update will allow the new features to become accessible.

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