511 - America's Traveler Information Telephone Number

Traffic Driving down the highway, enjoying the scenery, making great time, life is good. Then...the sudden, inexplicable screech to a halt: Cars, bumper-to-bumper, as far as the eye can see. How far is this back up? How long will it last? What to do? Call 511.

511, an easy-to-remember 3-digit telephone number, provides travelers with free, real-time, on demand, route-specific information. Callers find out about construction zones, traffic incidents, and other causes for congestion including mileage markers and timeframes for reference. Armed with the new info, travelers can make en route decisions, avoiding delays and saving time.

Before the 511 dialing code was assigned for travel information in 2000, more than 300 different travel numbers had multiplied across the United States. Instead of continuing with this cumbersome – yet obviously needed – system, the U. S. Department of Transportation petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for the 3-digit dialing code.

In 2001, the Cincinnati, OH area became the first in the country to use the new dialing code. Since inception, 96 million travelers have taken advantage of the 511 system. By year-end 2007, it was receiving 4+ million calls each month, and growing. 511 is available to over half of Americans.

Things to know about 511:
  • States are responsible for deploying their own 511 system

  • Some states offer
    mobile 511 apps

  • Services and 511 menus differ from state to state

  • In many areas, travelers may report accidents or ask for assistance via 511.
511 Deployment Status

What to Expect From 511

Each state is responsible for its 511 system; so options differ as states supply relevant choices. Most menus allow the user to choose between touch-tone or voice activated services. Once into the system, voice prompts enable the caller to get specific information about the area of interest. Menu and sub-menu selections may include:

  • Traffic conditions
  • Construction conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Weather reports
  • Transit Services
  • Public Transportation Fares & Schedules
  • Service Interruptions
  • Airports
  • Ride-sharing
  • Tourism Information
  • Conditions in Surrounding States.

Via 511, travelers may also report accidents or ask for road assistance. To date, services are free, but the usual telephone charges may apply for placing the call or for airtime. Try 511 and have a safe TRIP!

Reprinted from TRIPinfo Resource Atlas & Handbook.
Play Video