BLOG: New Plow Tracking Technology Put To The Test

By: Leslie S. Richards, Secretary of Transportation

January 26, 2016

Much of the state just experienced historic snowfall that brought, in some cases, a winter’s worth of snow over a couple of days. Thankfully, many Pennsylvanians heeded our warnings to not travel during this hazardous weather. But without being on the road, it can be hard to assess conditions, especially for those who don’t have the option to stay home.

Camera 81_11

On Saturday afternoon, a PennDOT plow was the only vehicle on part of Interstate 81.

This winter, we have made available on www.511PA.com the location of more than 700 PennDOT and contracted plow trucks across the state. These trucks cover mostly interstates and expressways, and are part of our Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) system pilot. While these 700 trucks don’t represent all of PennDOT’s more than 2,200 trucks statewide, making this information available is a great resource for the public.

Check out the story from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and how NBC 10 in Philadelphia showed their viewers how the plow tracker works.

AVL 511 statewide

We were very pleased to see media, customers and officials alike sharing this resource online (just search “PennDOT track” on Twitter). And the numbers show that 511PA, which also offers travel alerts, traffic cameras, alerts on speed and vehicle restrictions and more, was used by hundreds of thousands of customers. The website saw 379,000 visits from Friday through Sunday – 173,000 of those came on Saturday, making it the highest number of visits since the site launched in 2009. From Friday through Monday, more than 121,000 of the visits used the “Plow Truck” option.

And, as they say, there’s an app for that! While the 511PA app primarily gives hands-free, eyes-free travel updates while you’re traveling, you can also use it before you go to check our traffic map where you can see the plow truck information. We’re still getting numbers for the whole weekend, but on Friday when the storm started, nearly 10,000 people downloaded the iPhone or Android app, bringing the total number of app users to more than 112,000!

Through a weekend that relied so heavily on our services, we were glad to have another example of PennDOT’s efforts to support a Government That Works for Pennsylvania drivers.

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