Tennesseans are Spreading the Word: Use 511

Sunday, August 20, 2006 | 07:00pm

TDOT’s new traveler information line getting thousands of calls

Nashville, Tenn.—The first week of Tennessee’s new 511 traveler information line is a huge success with 36,419 calls placed to the voice-activated system. Tennessee 511 was activated at 1:00 p.m. August 14, 2006 and the numbers were calculated through midnight Sunday, August 20.

“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.”

The voice-activated system can 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.

One of the options callers have is to leave a comment through the 511 system. Here are some of the many positive comments that have been received:

  • “I really appreciate the new 511 system. I’m using it frequently. I’m a delivery driver, thanks.”
  • “Thank you for this 511 system. I am disabled and it’s hard to use the computer with the map. This is great and I can use my cell phone and it’s so easy. Bless you.”
  • “I’ll keep spreading the word so everyone can take advantage of this information and knowledge you all are providing. Thanks for a job well done.”
  • “This 511 is a great service you have going. I commute 100 miles Monday through Friday to Nashville to work. Love the voice prompt without having to look at my phone. Thanks a lot.”

One point of confusion and concern that several callers expressed is the fact that general congestion is not reported through the system.

“Daily rush hour traffic related congestion is not the type of information a caller will receive,” explained John Hall, TDOT Motorist Information Coordinator. “If a traffic accident or large construction project is causing an excessive back up, then it becomes an incident that the 511 system will pick up and report to callers; otherwise, general daily congestion will not be explained on 511.”
Here is a closer look at how callers used Tennessee 511 during the first week:

  • The average length of call was 1:50
  • On average, 217 people called TN511 per hour
  • The percent of people seeking traffic information was 90.5%
  • The percent of callers seeking weather information was 13.34% (some callers wanted weather and traffic)
  • 354 callers asked to be transferred to other states
  • The ratio of complaints to calls was 1/3310

    TDOT has added the Tennessee 511 voice-activated system to TDOT SmartWay (Tennessee’s intelligent transportation system), which already provides camera links, traffic information, and weather-related road conditions online on TDOT’s homepage, and has linked the 511 phone service with the SmartWay information on the Web.

    Tennessee’s 511 service is part of a nationwide effort to provide consistent and reliable traveler information. Tennessee is the 24th state to launch a 511 system since the initiative began in 2000. To use Tennessee 511 on the web, go to www.TN511.com.

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