WisDOT providing improved winter road condition information on 511wi.gov

Improvements include more frequent updates, spanning more miles of roadway

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation encourages drivers to check out the expanded and improved winter road condition reporting on 511wi.gov.

“Safety is core to our mission,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “We’re proud to find new ways to leverage technology to improve service and give the public a more clear and accurate idea of how to prepare for the drive ahead.”

  • To get a closer look at the system, members of the media are welcome to visit the Wisconsin Traffic Management Center by appointment on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Interviews can also be facilitated by video.
  • Please contact [email protected] to make an appointment to visit the Traffic Management Center, or to arrange an interview.

 The 511 update unveiled today ties in the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) technology the department and county highway departments use to make informed decisions on plowing and salting. MDSS generates automated models based on conditions measured at multiple areas throughout the state. The data sources are available around the clock and include:

  • Atmospheric and road weather sensors along the roadway and at airports
  • Information from snowplows enabled with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Information from the National Weather Service.

WisDOT began using 511 Wisconsin to report on winter road conditions in 2013. In previous years, the winter road conditions were managed manually with personnel reporting conditions from the field. Now, leveraging the MDSS technology enables an expanded system capable of more frequent reporting and greater consistency. Starting today, more than 14,000 centerline miles of roadway will be updated at least twice hourly by devices constantly pulling in data. The old system covered roughly 3,700 miles with field observations coming in every several hours.

Know before you go. How to use the system:

  • Visit 511wi.gov online, or download the 511wi smartphone app
  • In the map legend, make sure “winter road conditions” is checked
  • Look for the colors outlining the roadways near you
  • Conditions include good winter driving, slippery stretches, snow covered, ice covered, and travel not advised.

Drivers are encouraged to always expect the unexpected from a Wisconsin winter.

  • Buckle up, phone down. Every trip, every time.
  • In an active storm, refrain from travel whenever possible for your own safety and also to provide plow drivers room to safely work.
  • In the event of a crash, remember if you can “steer it, clear it.” Many drivers think they should not move their car if they are involved in a fender bender or crash. If (and only if) your car is drivable and there are no injuries, you should move your car to the shoulder or nearby safe place off of the road before calling 911.
  • It’s the law to stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow engaged in snow and ice removal.

Visit wisconsindot.gov/staysafe to learn more about safe driving tips, links to best practices for winter road safety, and the law.

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