South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) Regional Traveler Information System for Weather Responsive Traffic Management
The FHWA Road Weather Management Program (RWMP) partnered with the South Dakota DOT to develop and implement a Weather Responsive Traffic Management (WRTM) strategy that involves mobile data collection and traveler information dissemination during weather events.
- The first project element developed a special software application that allowed plow drivers to enter road conditions into the Integrated Roadway Information System (IRIS) system directly using their Mobile Data Computers (MDCs) that already existed in the trucks. This was an improvement over the current process because it provided them immediate and direct access to IRIS instead of using the radio to inform a supervisor who would enter the road conditions into IRIS at their desk or the maintenance staff would enter it in the office at the end of a run or shift.
- The second project element focused on providing motorists new road condition information on the SafeTravelUSA website, 511 phone system, and mobile phone applications. The 24-hour road condition forecasts came directly from the South Dakota DOT Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) and were represented to the public through their traveler information systems as possible future "threats" when road conditions might be deteriorating into an unsafe situation. The new information also included expansion in the type and number of National Weather System (NWS) alerts and related information.
The evaluation approach combined both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The quantitative analysis, using system log data collected during the period of 1/31/2015 – 5/12/2015, primarily focused on documenting quantities of expanded road weather information and website/mobile phone app hit statistics. The qualitative analysis compiled results from two surveys: an internet survey of travelers who obtained the new traveler information and were willing to share their thoughts, and the previously mentioned survey of select maintenance staff who used the IRIS application on the MDCs in a simulated scenario.
The study is believed to have improved and expanded road weather information provided to travelers
- Nearly 100,000 24-hour road condition threat forecasts were issued.
- Over 42,000 hours of National Weather Service alerts were issued.
- 300,000 website views were made where 24-hour road condition threat forecasts were available.
- When asked if they viewed or listened to the forecasts, 67 percent of website users, 49 percent of mobile phone users, and 36 percent of 511 phone callers responded "yes."
- Survey respondents either strongly agreed or agreed 85 to 95 percent of the time to whether they thought the information was easy to find and easy understand, depending on the type of media they were using to view or listen to the information.
- 80 to 87 percent of the respondents found the information "quite" or "very" useful. This was evidenced by additional responses on how they used the information:
- 60 percent changed the timing of their travel
- 53 percent changed the routing of their travel
- 76 percent felt more prepared for their upcoming travel
- The survey of maintenance personnel during the early testing of the IRIS application indicated that:
- 78 percent would use the application to report road conditions when conditions change
- 74 percent would be able to enter road condition reports more efficiently
- 83 percent would be able to describe road conditions more accurately
- 91 percent would be able to report road conditions sooner after making the observation
- 78 percent would be able to enter road condition reports more frequently