MANITOULIN—Travellers across most of North America can access up-to-date information on road conditions by dialing 511 on their land line or mobile phone (pull over before dialing of course).
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) released a press statement urging the public to be aware that the unpredictable weather conditions of winter are coming fast upon us and to always drive according to the weather conditions—and to consider delaying your travel plans when faced with inclement weather. If you find yourself in the midst of bad weather while already on the road, pull off the road safely completely and wait for conditions to improve.
The 511 telephone link is part of a travel safety system that is fast becoming North America-wide. Instituted as part of an initiative of the US Department of Transportation in an effort to bring together the more than 300 individual travel information lines across the US, the system has since expanded to include most Canadian provinces.
The 511 travel information line in Ontario provides 24/7 bilingual information on winter road conditions, closures, and construction information as well a host of other information useful to travellers before they even head out onto the open road—including carpool locations, high occupancy vehicle lanes, service centres, provincial parks, rest areas, ferry services and tourist information centres.
The Ontario 511 telephone system uses voice recognition software to allow for hands-free operation (to meet Ontario’s hands-free driving legislation) as well as touch-tone service and zero out (pressing zero for the operator) options for those with disabilities.
Ontario 511 is also effective to communicate critical information to the public when emergencies or events arise, notes the OPP release, pointing out that they believe the 511 service will lead to “reduced congestion and improvements in safety if we remember to check travel conditions prior to leaving.”
The 511 service is also available online at ontario.ca/511 and there is a Twitter alert hashtag, #mtoroadclosures, that will send you updates in your Twitter feed.