Caltrans offers voice-activated road reports

| 11/28/2001

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 for local information. Eventually, the department plans to offer more detailed information over the phone.