The California Department
of Transportation has unveiled a voice-activated road-report service that
lets travelers know about conditions on all 255-state highways in the Golden
State. The new option is designed to respond to a caller's voice and ease
use for drivers calling from a cell phone.
Callers to the highway
number, 1-800-427-ROAD (7623), will be asked to say the number of the route
they are interested in and the system will automatically begin providing actual
road conditions. Caltrans believes the new system will be particularly beneficial
for drivers because they will no longer need to take their eyes off the road
to punch in the route number on a phone keypad - a distraction if done while
driving. Caltrans shelled out about $2 million to install the voice-activated
feature on the 404 phone lines making up the road information network.
Last year, the department
received more than 5 million requests for highway condition information, 40
percent from callers using cell phones. The new system offers information
on lane, road and on-and off-ramp closures. But, the system still does not
provide current traffic information, such as listings of minor accidents or
debris in traffic. Caltrans urges travelers to continue to listen to the radio
or check www.dot.ca.gov for local information.
Eventually, the department plans to offer more detailed information over the