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Letter: DOT keeps motorists safe, informed

The North Dakota Department of Transportation's mission is to provide a transportation system that safely moves people and goods. During the winter, the NDDOT works hard to maintain the roads and inform the public of driving conditions on state highways.

The NDDOT urges motorists to "know before you go," or check road conditions before travel. The NDDOT uses several means to communicate to the public about road conditions. For example, press releases are sent to media, updates are made on the 511 phone system and the Travel Information Map on our Web site.

In addition, the NDDOT uses Dynamic Message Signs as another tool to communicate road conditions to the traveling public. One of the primary purposes for the DMS is to save lives by alerting motorists of road closures. If motorists see on the message board that the road is closed from Dickinson to Bismarck, they can exit into Dickinson and stay the night. The signs are located in high visibility locations.

The DMS is also used for: Amber Alerts and to help with traffic control during crashes.

NDDOT has implemented a three-tiered advisory system to inform motorists of travel conditions. NDDOT is working with other jurisdictions to implement this advisory system statewide, so motorists receive a consistent message about road conditions.

Motorists traveling on the Interstate are informed by the DMS if one of the following three-tiered travel advisories have been issued and are prompted to call 511 for the most current and detailed information:

- Travel Alerts are issued to alert motorists that areas of challenging winter weather driving conditions may be encountered. Conditions are such that motorists can still travel; however, they should be aware that rapidly changing conditions may result in travel delays due to reduced speeds and visibility.

- No travel advisories are issued when conditions warrant no travel but not a road closure. No travel advisories have the potential to change to a road closure if conditions deteriorate. No travel advisories are issued for public safety to encourage motorists not to venture out onto the roads. Conditions change often during a storm event and motorists may become stranded.

- Roads are closed are issued when conditions create a life-threatening danger to motorists and the roadway is impassable.

With these tools, it is the goal of the NDDOT that motorists are able to stay informed of travel conditions, plan trips accordingly and arrive at their destination safely.

Larry Gangl, Dickinson, NDDOT Dickinson District engineer