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5-1-1 is a transportation and traffic information telephone hotline in some regions of the United States and Canada. Travelers can dial 511, a three-digit telephone number, on landlines and most mobile phones. The number has also extended to be the default name of many state and provincial transportation department road conditions Web sites, such as Wisconsin's site.[1] It is an example of an N11 code, part of the North American Numbering Plan.

5-1-1 services in the United States are organized by state or region. Some 5-1-1 services are limited to information for drivers regarding road conditions and traffic. Other services have a wider scope, also providing information on public transport, carpooling and other services.

In the United States

History and implementation

Beginning as a research project at the University of North Dakota in the Summer 1995, an Advanced Traveler Information System, known by its phone number #SAFE (#7233). This initial system provided the proof of concept for a statewide application across both North and South Dakota, and later Minnesota. This system proved that all interstates, and state highways, could be covered and information about these roadways could be provided to travelers on demand 24/7. After more than 5 years of around the clock operations, the principles that established the operational and business rules of the #SAFE program were adopted by the FHWA as the initial guidelines of what was to later become 5-1-1.

In March 1998, a 3-digit dialing code was launched in the Cincinnati–Northern Kentucky metropolitan area for the ARTIMIS project. The SmarTraveler service, operated by SmartRoute Systems for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet since 1995, had been using a 7-digit code (333-3333) which was available to landline phones in both Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area codes, but cellular callers had to dial a separate code (*1) to access the same touch-tone traffic system. SmartRoute Systems and KYTC negotiated with the two active cellular carriers and Cincinnati Bell and reached an agreement on allowing a 3-digit code "2-1-1" (a number agreed by the carriers), making this the "first in the nation".[2] This implementation was seen as proof that wireless carriers could implement short-codes without a * or # prefix requirement, and led to a series of discussions with the USDOT and the FCC pushing the carriers to release the number (which they viewed as precious internal resources).

On October 2, 1996, Eli Sherer of SmartRoute Systems, along with representatives from ITS America, the USDOT Joint Program Office, and others met with the FCC [3] regarding the possibility of reserving an N11 number nationwide for Advanced Traveler Information Systems. This meeting led to further discussions at ITS America and USDOT, and the information provided was used and molded into the USDOT petition to the FCC for a 3-digit code for ATIS. The USDOT petition (as noted below) did NOT request a specific N11 number; When the FCC ruling was made on July 21, 2001, the 511 code was "ASSIGNED as a national abbreviated dialing code to be used exclusively for access to travel information services," and at the same time, the 211 code was "ASSIGNED as a national abbreviated dialing code to be used to access community information and referral services." Therefore, the 211 code that had been in use in Cincinnati since 1998 was changed to 511.

As of March 2001, at least 300 telephone numbers existed for travel information systems in the United States. To overcome the confusion caused by this array of numbers, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a national assignment of a single three-digit N11 dialing code. On July 21, 2000, the FCC assigned 511 as a nationwide telephone number for intelligent transportation system (ITS) traveler information,[4] along with 2-1-1 for social services. Its use is being promoted by the USDOT's ITS initiative.[5]

"On March 8, 1999, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate a nationwide three-digit telephone number for traveler information.
On July 21, 2000, the FCC designated 511 as the United States' national travel information telephone number."[6]

The first 511 traveler information system to launch was the Cincinnati area's ARTIMIS hotline in June 2001.[7]

The first statewide 511 traveler information system was launched across the state of Nebraska in October 2001.[8]

Eight states, from Alaska to Maine, pooled resources and expertise to develop the 511 voice-activated phone service for travelers. Led by the Iowa DOT, the multi-state consortium received $700,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to help pay for system design and software development. Each state also provided a 20 percent matching fund, boosting total funds to nearly $900,000. In addition to Iowa, the participating states in the consortium (as of 2011) are Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and Vermont.

Individual states have the lead role in coordinating 511 deployments. National leadership is provided by the 511 Deployment Coalition.[9] Led by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and including travel information experts from more than 30 organizations, the Coalition has developed voluntary guidelines for state transportation agencies to follow when planning 511 service for their states or regions. Other leading member organizations of the Coalition include the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Active systems

Active 511 systems (in order of deployment date)[citation needed] as of January 31, 2010:


San Francisco
The logo on a road sign
FasTrak antennae that poll vehicle transponders to collect data used to generate 511.org traffic information, San Francisco

Preceded, in 1996, by TravInfo[11][12] and 817-1717,[13][14][15][16] travelers in the San Francisco Bay Area can use the 5-1-1 phone service, access transit and traffic information on a Web site, 511.org, which provides information on mass transit schedules and an interactive trip planner, which will provide an optimal routing between a given origin, destination, and optional time constraints. In addition, 511.org provides information on bicycling, ridesharing, and the toll road system FasTrak. 511.org[17] is a service of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission,[18] and was designed by the transportation engineering company PB Farradyne,[19] a division of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas,[18] (later Telvent Farradyne).[20] The system had a fair amount of controversy when it was announced that it would use FasTrak electronic toll tags to track vehicles as they traversed Bay Area freeways.[21] 511 has since stopped using FasTrak toll tag data to provide driving times.[22] Driving times are now derived from GPS probe vehicle-based traffic speed data that 511 purchases from INRIX, Inc.[23]

In 2006, the Bay Area's transit coordinator signed an $11 million four-year contract with defense contractor Science Applications International Corporation to operate the local 511 system.[24]

San Diego

Users of the San Diego area have access to road, transit, and other information via the phone and Web. They can access transit information on a Web site,[25] which provides information on mass transit schedules and an interactive trip planner, which will provide an optimal routing between a given origin, destination, and optional time constraints. In addition, 511sd.com provides information on bicycling, ridesharing, and the toll road system Fastrak. 511sd.com is a service of the San Diego Association of Governments, and was designed by the company ICx Technologies and PB Farradyne (now Telvent Farradyne).[20]


Florida has an active 511 system that underwent an overhaul in 2009. Central Florida is claimed to have the most-used 511 system in the nation, on a per capita basis.[26]


This statewide Georgia Navigator system provides traffic, MARTA/GRTA and other public transport, rideshare, Clean Air Campaign, Atlanta and Savannah airport, Amtrak, Greyhound, weather and tourism information in an interactive voice response (IVR) format. Callers are also given the option of connecting to live operators at the Georgia Department of Transportation's Transportation Management Center in Atlanta. Connecting to operators allows users to report traffic accidents to the Georgia State Patrol or local police or sheriffs, or request motorist assistance from the Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) program. Callers can also connect to adjacent states' 5-1-1 systems, including North Carolina's.

In January 2011, the Georgia Department of Transportation launched a mobile application on the iPhone platform to provide iPhone users with a mobile option for up to the minute traffic information found on the website. The application also provides special offers and other information about businesses and organizations who participate in the program.

Georgia actually had a system for years before this, using only live operators, and the code *DOT (*368), which could not necessarily be used by those mobile phone users who were roaming from elsewhere, as these codes are specific to each phone company. A local 404 number in metro Atlanta and a toll-free 800 number were used for these and landline calls, and still serve as backup for mobile providers that fail to connect.[27]


In Kentucky, 511 services cover traffic and weather conditions, and can also be heard on the radio on the AM dial (the Travelers' Information Station) and at 511.ky.gov.[28]

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) has implemented a service that helps commuters and travelers access information regarding weather-related road conditions, construction and congestion, via the Web or mobile device 24/7. New Hampshire is part of an 8-state consortium that is sharing the cost to design and develop the system.[29]

New York

511 New York is established and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Basic service was launched in the New York City metropolitan area in late 2008. Statewide coverage and more sophisticated services will be added throughout 2009. 511 NY – "Get Connected to Go" is the umbrella brand of The New York State Department of Transportation for traffic, transit and travel information. The 511 New York theme line is: Get Connected to Go. The tag line is: New York State's Official Traffic and Travel Info Source. The credit line is: A Free Service of the New York State Department of Transportation.

In the New York metropolitan area 5-1-1 provides information on bus, subway, and commuter rail mass transit systems in addition to road conditions and traffic information.


Pennsylvania's statewide 511 launched on September 1, 2009. The system provides up to date information on all the states interstate highways.[30]


Implemented in August 2006, Tennessee travelers have the option of accessing road and travel conditions at TN511.com[31] or through the 511 phone service.


The FCC designated 511 as the national traveler information number. Virginia's 511 system began in the Shenandoah Valley in 2000 and went statewide in early 2005.[32] Currently both the 511virginia.org website and calling 511 from any land line or mobile phone provides statewide travelling information. Alternatively, there is now a 511 VDOT app for iOS and Android devices.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Department of Transportation's (WVDOT) free 511 Traveler Information System provides real-time traffic information, including congestion, construction, lane closures, road conditions and severe weather information on all West Virginia interstates and other major highways. The resource is available 24 hours a day via phone by dialing 511 or online at WV511.org. WV 511 advisories also are available from the WV 511 Drive Safe mobile app and via statewide, regional and roadway-specific Twitter feeds. The public safety alerts (such as Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts) carried on 511 are voluntary, cooperative partnerships among law enforcement, WVDOT, other agencies and local broadcasters. WVDOT uses overhead electronic message signs and 511 to get public safety alerts out to the public. 511 was implemented in West Virginia in 2012.[33]


In the summer of 2007, the original vendor was removed and services were redesigned and improved using Meridian Environmental Technology.[34] The effort to redesign and improve service undertaken summer of 2007 to revamp WYDOT's 511 Travel Information telephone service is paying benefits this winter, based on recent customer feedback.[35]

Some of the additional features are:

  • Ability to choose neighboring states that provide 511 information
  • Voice recognition, with the option to revert to touchtone keypad input
  • Ability to choose route-specific information or regional summaries
  • Agency capability to include Alerts (Amber, Homeland, customized)

Similar services in the United States

The Minnesota Department of Transportation operates a website for traffic and road condition information.

Discontinuing services


The Washington State Department of Transportation launched the state's 511 service in July 2003.[36] On April 24, 2023, the WSDOT announced that it would deactivate the 511 telephone number within the state on May 19 of that year, citing declining usage (attributed to the use of smartphones and GPS navigation), old technology, and cost.[37][38]

In Canada


The Intelligent Transportation Systems Society of Canada (ITS Canada) has brought together a consortium, the Canada 511 Consortium,[39] to help get 5-1-1 service established in Canada.

In January 2005, the consortium filed an application to assign the 5-1-1 access code in Canada. It proposed that in addition to traffic, the number would report weather, which also has a major impact on traffic, particularly in a country with such harsh winters. The application was approved by the CRTC in Canada on July 28, 2006.[40][41]

In March 2007, an article in Computing Canada said it was up to each individual province whether or not to launch a 5-1-1 system, but that not all provinces were eager to proceed.[42]

In May 2008, an article in IT World Canada claimed that the 5-1-1 initiative "appears to have lost momentum".[43]

British Columbia began loose implementation of 5-1-1 service in late 2009/early 2010. This replaced the interim mobile service provided by *4997 (*HWYS) which had been in place on Rogers, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility. BC 5-1-1 service is available to Telus, Telus Mobility and Telus MiKE clients at this[when?] time. Full service NOT utilizing 5-1-1 is available via DriveBC (a government website/phone line) at www.drivebc.ca or by phone across North America at 1-800-550-4997 (HWYS).

Alberta unveiled its 5-1-1 road report service on February 4, 2013.[44]

In Saskatchewan 5-1-1 redirects to 888-335-7623 which is the Highways Hotline, a Provincial phone information system with highway weather and impassibility information. The Implementation date is Unknown.

Active systems

Alberta,[45] Manitoba,[46] Ontario,[47][48][49] Quebec,[47] New Brunswick,[50] Nova Scotia,[51] Prince Edward Island[52] and the Yukon Territory[53] each have 5-1-1 systems. Most provinces and territories without 5-1-1 systems have other road information hotlines, accessible by dialing various phone numbers.[54]


  1. ^ "511wi | Home". 511wi.gov. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  2. ^ Aultman-Hall, Lisa (December 1999). "Evaluation of ARTIMIS Telephone Information System" (PDF). Report No. KTC-99-66.
  3. ^ "ECFS".
  4. ^ "511 Guidelines Version 3.0" (PDF). September 2005. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 17, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
  5. ^ "FCC designates 511 traffic information number". Civil Engineering. 70 (9): 12. September 2000.
  6. ^ Deployment Assistance Report #5: Public Transportation Content on 511 Services (PDF). 511 Deployment Coalition. June 2003. Retrieved 9 January 2021. International City/County Management Association
  7. ^ "511 Deployment Status" Archived September 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, USDOT. Retrieved on March 3, 2008
  8. ^ "Nebraska 511 Information" Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, USDOT. Retrieved on June 12, 2009
  9. ^ "Deploy511.org". Deploy511.org. Archived from the original on May 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  10. ^ "Phone Upgrades". Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  11. ^ "511 to Provide One-Stop Shopping". Hacienda Pulse. September 17, 2002. Retrieved 9 January 2021. In the Bay Area and Tri-Valley Area, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency, and hence, is the agency that will be implementing 511.
  12. ^ EXAMINER GRAPHICS (1 October 1996). "USING TravInfo freeway monitoring system". SFGATE. Hearst. Retrieved 9 January 2021. The TravInfo freeway monitoring system collects and distributes instantaneous traffic information for highways around the Bay Area. PHONE: 817-1717 (from any area code).
  13. ^ Goll, David (September 8, 2000). "Transit leaders seal $38M TravInfo deal". East Bay Business Times. American City Business Journals, Inc. Archived from the original on 2006-03-09. Retrieved 9 January 2021. PB Farradyne reached an agreement with the Oakland-based Metropolitan Transportation Commission to operate and eventually expand Trav-Info, a real-time traffic and transit information source. PB Farradyne is a division of New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., the nation's largest transportation design firm. ...The MTC, which handles transportation planning and financing for the nine-county Bay Area, established TravInfo in 1996 along with the California Department of Transportation and the California Highway Patrol. ...Michael Berman, MTC's TravInfo project manager...
  14. ^ Koo, Ronald; Miller, Mark A.; Hall, Randolph; Yim, Youngbin (September 1998). "TravInfo Evaluation Traveler Response Element: TravInfo 817-1717 Caller Study Phase 1 Results". UC Berkeley: California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology. CiteSeerX
  15. ^ "Program Organization". TravInfo®. MTC. 31 December 1997. Archived from the original on December 7, 1998. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Project Partners". TravInfo®. MTC. 11 November 1998. Archived from the original on 1998-12-06. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  17. ^ "511.org". 511.org. 2012-05-10. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  18. ^ a b "Who is Involved?". TravInfo®. Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 6 August 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-08-06. Retrieved 9 January 2021. Metropolitan Transportation Commission; California Highway Patrol; Caltrans; PB Farradyne (PBF) is a division of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas;
  19. ^ "PB Farradyne". PB Farradyne. Parsons Brinckerhoff. 2 April 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-04-02. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  20. ^ a b "Telvent Farradyne corporate site". 2006. Archived from the original on November 18, 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  21. ^ FasTrak Application and License Agreement Archived May 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Toll Tags: section, last subsection: You agree that the Toll Tag may be read to provide anonymous traffic flow data to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's '511' project, a real time traffic information service. No information identifying a FasTrak account, person or vehicle using the Toll Tag will be collected by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission or '511'.
  22. ^ "Privacy". Archived from the original on February 14, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
  23. ^ "Inrix Partners Expanding". Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  24. ^ "San Francisco re-ups SAIC unit for 511". October 2006. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
  25. ^ "511 San Diego Region". Archived from the original on February 17, 2008. Retrieved June 21, 2007.
  26. ^ "Central Florida 511 system nation's most used". Orlando Business Journal. August 4, 2006. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  27. ^ "Dial 511 for transportation information". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 15, 2007. Retrieved August 15, 2006.[dead link]
  28. ^ "511.ky.gov". 511.ky.gov. Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  29. ^ "About 511". New Hampshire Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  30. ^ "Post-gazette.com". Post-gazette.com. 2012-03-16. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  31. ^ "TN511.com". TN511.com. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  32. ^ "511virginia.org". 511virginia.org. Archived from the original on August 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  33. ^ "West Virginia 511 - Know Before You Go". West Virginia Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on April 8, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  34. ^ "WYDOT suspends 511 to make service improvements". Wyoming DOT News. July 3, 2007. Archived from the original on April 22, 2007.
  35. ^ "Revamped 511 Travel Information service increases customer satisfaction". Wyoming DOT News. February 11, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ "FHWA 511 Travel Information Telephone Services - Washington State 511 Information". ops.fhwa.dot.gov. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  37. ^ "The WSDOT Blog - Washington State Department of Transportation: Deactivating the 511 Phone Number – and tools to use instead to stay informed". The WSDOT Blog - Washington State Department of Transportation. 2023-04-24. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  38. ^ "WSDOT says goodbye to 511 as it shuts down WA travel info phone line". The Seattle Times. 2023-04-25. Retrieved 2023-05-09.
  39. ^ "ITS Canada Project 511". Intelligent Transportation Systems Society of Canada. Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2010. ITS Canada has initiated an effort to establish the 511 telephone number as an automated 'weather and traveller information service' number in Canada. ... ITS Canada has developed a 'Canada 511 Consortium'... .
  40. ^ Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (July 28, 2006). "Telecom Decision CRTC 006-44: Applications for assignment of the 5-1-1 access code". Government of Canada. Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  41. ^ "CRTC Assigns 511 for Weather and Traveller Information". ITS Canada Newsletter. Intelligent Transportation Systems Society of Canada. August 2006. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2010. On July 28, 2006, the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced the assignment of the three-digit dialing code 511 for weather and traveller information in Canada, culminating over two years of work by ITS Canada and other members of the Canada 511 Consortium.
  42. ^ Sibley, Kathleen (March 2, 2007). "Road to national 511 service is littered with speed bumps". Computing Canada. 33 (3). ISSN 0319-0161. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2010. That's because, while Environment Canada is spearheading the weather information service, the other portion is the responsibility of the provinces, not all of whom have the same interest in (or resources to participate in) the project. And that, say experts, could leave a good part of the undertaking in the ditch.
  43. ^ Lombardi, Rosie (May 20, 2008). "511 service off to slow start in Canada". IT World Canada. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2010. But the initiative appears to have lost momentum.
  44. ^ "Alberta set to launch new 511 service". Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013. Alberta's provincial government is set to unveil its new 511 road report service on Monday.
  45. ^ "Alberta road conditions, road reports and traffic cams". Archived from the original on September 2, 2014.
  46. ^ "Manitoba 511 - Road and Traveller Information". Archived from the original on 2014-12-10.
  47. ^ a b "What other services come with my Cogeco Home Phone service?". Cogeco Home Phone FAQ. Cogeco Cable Inc. Archived from the original on December 7, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 511 is a quick way to contact the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. From this line, you can obtain traffic, weather and road condition reports across the province.
  48. ^ "Home Phone Service". Distributel Communications Ltd. website. Archived from the original on June 30, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 5-1-1 is a free service that allows callers to find out about road conditions, report transportation incidents, make comments or complaints, and obtain other general information pertaining to transportation. 5-1-1 is available in Ontario and Quebec and is intended for non-emergency inquiries. Click either of the "Available services" tabs to see the original quoted text.
  49. ^ "Ontario 511 - About Ontario 511". MTO. Government of Ontario. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014. Ontario 511 is an Ontario Ministry of Transportation telephone service that provides the public with voice-activated, hands-free information on provincial highways: Road closures, Winter road conditions, and Construction projects
  50. ^ "Traffic Advisories / Road Construction Report". New Brunswick Department of Transportation website. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010. For Road Conditions Dial 511 within New Brunswick
  51. ^ "Road Conditions - 511". Nova Scotia Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal website. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  52. ^ "Prince Edward Island to introduce 511 system". Prince Edward Island Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal website. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  53. ^ "Transportation & Travel Information". Town of Faro website. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2010. Dial 511 from any touch-tone phone in the Yukon for the current road report
  54. ^ Luebke, Bruce A. "Road Conditions and Construction Information". Drivers Daily Log website. Archived from the original on September 23, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2010. This list below provides phone number and Web site information by state for road conditions and road construction forecasts in the United States and Canada.

External links

Region-specific 511 sites

General information