Going high-tech: ODOT ‘tweets’ updates

Published 9:27 pm Saturday, January 2, 2010

Those iPhones you got for Christmas can get another use this winter and keep you safe on the roads throughout the state, thanks to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Now there are six metropolitan areas in the state that will allow motorists Twitter account access. They are Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

Motorists can sign up to receive brief messages, aka “tweets,” from these accounts just by using their cell phones.

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Since just before Christmas ODOT has provided Twitter accounts to send out traffic tweets when there are icy or snowy conditions that would make driving on interstates and major highways hazardous. ODOT has also offered to inform where winter-related accidents are causing major traffic delays.

The department’s segue into Twitter capability comes as an expansion of its major traffic Website www.BuckeyeTraffic.org. Last winter ODOT reported that there were more than 32 million hits last winter.

“Buckeye Traffic has been a successful tool the department has used for a number of years,” Scott Varner, ODOT deputy director, said. “And so Twitter was really an expansion of those efforts. It is a pilot project in six of our major cities that started two weeks so. So it is really building upon the information provided by Buckeye Traffic, but focusing specifically and ice and snow conditions.”

Among the information travelers can obtain from the Buckeye Traffic map is where there are road accidents, accident debris, disabled vehicles, flooding, roadwork, snow or ice.

Other information available is what the conditions of the roads are as far as wet, dry, moderate and severe and where there are road closures or restrictions. There is also Web Cam capability on the Website

Through the Buckeye Traffic Website there is up to date traffic information available 24-hours a day across the state.

ODOT warns travelers that during the winter road conditions can change mile by mile and minute by minute and encourages motorists to be informed in order to be safe this season.

“I am hopeful to see how this initial pilot project works in terms of how many people sign up for the information,” Varner said.

“We are excited to see in just two weeks a couple of thousand of followers across the state. We are also trying to get a good sense of what information will be most valuable to those who follow.”