TDOT implements 511 travel system for motorists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Motorists traveling through Tennessee will be able to use their cell phones to get an update on road and weather conditions now that the state has become the 24th in the nation to implement a 511 travel information system.

Gov. Phil Bredesen and state Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely on Monday launched the new $1.2 million service that helps motorists avoid major traffic snarls and get weather updates by checking before they leave home or while they're traveling.

"This is a convenient informational tool that can help drivers avoid the frustration of traffic tie-ups and, more importantly, make their travels safer," Bredesen said.

In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission reserved the 511 number for traveler information.

Tennessee received a federal grant in 2003 to develop an implementation plan for a 511 service. Besides a cell phone, the system can be accessed via a land phone or online.

If calling, individuals simply dial 511 and request the information they need. The voice-activated system can inform callers of major closures on the interstate, U.S. and state routes, weather conditions, as well as Amber alerts for missing children.