New features added to 511 Traveler Services website

ITD is committed to ensuring the safest travel possible on state highways.

To provide motorists with the latest information on highway and weather conditions, and to help travelers make safe, well-informed travel decisions, the department offers a comprehensive 511 Traveler Services system. Motorists have access to information that is updated regularly throughout the day or as conditions change.

Information can be retrieved by computer and mobile devices through the Internet ( or by telephone, both line-based and cell phones.

The 511 Traveler Services system is constantly evolving and incorporates the latest advancements in technology, explains program coordinator Tony Ernest.

This fall, ITD replaced its old “low-bandwidth site,” with a new “Streamlined” version that generates information faster than its predecessor and makes the website easier to navigate, Ernest explains.

It has better map zooming capabilities than the previous version while continuing all of the options from the old low-bandwidth site.

Approximately 80 percent of all Internet traffic to the site is generated through dial-up, or low-bandwidth connections. ITD is committed to maintaining the option for computer users who have not upgraded or do not have access to faster Internet connections, Ernest explains.

The Streamlined version replaces an option that was based on old technology and hardware. It capitalizes on some of the technology used on the system’s more robust “Full-Feature” option.

Both are based on Google map technology, Ernest says. The Streamlined option uses a static Google map that contains information similar to the more robust site, such as colored representations of highways based on winter driving difficulty. Because of its simplified nature, it loads very quickly on all Internet browsers. The more robust, Full-Feature, website might take slightly longer to load because of its complexity, especially for those who use Microsoft Internet Explorer on an older computer.

The Full-Feature site allows users to scale the size of the Idaho map and to quickly move from the scalable map to a 3-D satellite map, or a hybrid version.

For the convenience of users, ITD introduced a new option to the more robust site this fall that enables users to select and save their favorite routes for quick and easy information retrieval. Users can personalize routes they regularly travel by setting a beginning and ending point.

Instead of selecting an entire highway to search for current information, they can go to their “favorite” route for even faster reports. The option is similar to Google map technology that lets users determine a travel route based on beginning and ending markers.

Users can save their favorite or regularly used routes for future reference. Future reference will be possible if users elect to establish an account through the 511 system. There is no cost for the service. Users can set as many routes as desired, Ernest says. Personalized routes will be listed on the left side of the 511 website and can be retrieved by a single mouse click.

A feature planned for the personalized route reports in the near future will enable computer-generated e-mails sent directly to a user’s e-mail account. That option is being developed now, Ernest says, and could be available for use later this season.

This winter the Traveler Services website also will begin using a new color scheme to identify routes with varying degrees of winter driving difficulty. The color change will enable users who have color blindness to better distinguish the different conditions.

Published 11-18-2011