LINCOLN – A late November meeting allowed officials with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) and the National Weather Service (NWS) to update the Nebraska 511 system.
According to a release for the NDOT, this update will bring better service to Nebraskans as they plan for winter travel.
Nebraska 511 has been a staple for Nebraskans and travelers alike for more than two decades.
What originally started as a phone service has evolved to also include a web application as well as a mobile app. The service provides information on construction, road conditions, closures, lane restrictions, highway cameras and other important information. From November of 2020 to October 2021, the 511 system was utilized by 1.5 million users.
During the Monday, November 29 press conference, NDOT highlighted the new features of the updated Nebraska 511, which includes integrated weather, dedicated information to commercial carriers, overhead digital signs and their messages, updated icons and an improved user interface.
Also highlighted at the press conference is the importance of preparing for winter weather as the season rapidly approaches.
‘‘Winter is often a long season in Nebraska, bringing cold temperatures, snow, and at times, dangerous wind,” said NDOT Director John Selmer. “NDOT is proud to partner with the Nebraska State Patrol and the National Weather Service to be as prepared as possible when winter weather strikes to keep roadways open, and when necessary, close them for the safety of the traveling public and our teammates. The work we do, together with the information provided in our 511 service helps keep motorist moving while providing the best information possible for decision making. NDOT’s teammates in our State Operations Center work day and night to keep motorist updated through the 511 system as well as use our dynamic message boards to give advanced notice whenever possible.’
“The Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Transportation and the National Weather Service have worked together over many winter seasons to provide the necessary service to travelers for the various types of winter weather which strike Nebraska,” said NSP Lt. Korte. “This year is no different. We began preparing as a team soon after last season to help us be prepared for what this winter will bring.” “It takes many subject matter experts, working together to help provide the right information at the right time for travelers in Nebraska during the winter months,” said Michael Mortiz from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “The collaborative approach our teams take towards planning for winter events helps everyone from law enforcement to plow drivers be prepared for what they will encounter while working to keep roadways clear for travelers.”
NDOT, NSP and NOAA work together regularly with coordinated meetings and conference calls to be best prepared for what winter will bring.
This winter, motorists are reminded to be prepared with warm clothing, water and food when traveling during winter weather. Be sure to travel on well-established routes and notify someone when you are leaving for your destination. If traveling a distance, a winter weather survival kit is advised with additional basic items. Travelers are advised to not drive faster than conditions allow. Surfaces will be slick under the snow and visibility may be poor. Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
With snowplows out on the roads, travelers are urged to be cautious and courteous to those operating them, making sure to:
- Slow down as you approach plows. They travel slowly, usually 25-30 miles per hour or less.
- Stay well behind plows to give you and them plenty of room. When traveling outside of a business or residential district, it is unlawful to follow a highway maintenance vehicle (snowplow, truck or grader) more closely than 100 feet when it is plowing snow, spreading salt or sand, or displaying a flashing amber or blue light.
- Never pass a plow on the right – snowplows are equipped with “wing plows” which extend beyond the truck itself.
- Know where plows are and actions they may be taking while they plow snow.
Motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seat belt and children are in a car safety seat. Do not use cruise control in wet or snowy weather and keep a full gas tank.
For safe-driving tips and winter weather information, visit NDOT’s website, http://dot.nebraska.gov/safety/driving/winter/
As a reminder, the NSP Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance. Drivers can reach NSP by dialing *55 from any cell phone. Call 911 for any emergency.