NJDOT alert system can prevent you from getting stuck in the snow

Originally designed with winter in mind, a more than two-year-old New Jersey Department of Transportation driver alert system is ready – but officials say so far it hasn’t had need to be used only once in its history.

That was for the remainder of Hurricane Ida, which swept through the state last September 1. NJDOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said “511NJConnect” was working as intended at the time, but it’s still something the department would like to avoid rolling out if possible.

These alerts, Schapiro said, use geolocation technology to identify drivers near an unexpected and extended closure on one of New Jersey’s freeways.

From there, via their mobile SMS providers, drivers can decide whether or not to approve additional updates on the situation.

“They choose whether or not to receive these alerts after the premiere, so they don’t have to sign up if they don’t want to,” Schapiro said. “Once the incident is resolved, anyone who has subscribed to alerts will automatically be unsubscribed and all of their data will be deleted, so we do not save any of this information.”

Although 511NJConnect was first announced in December 2019 in anticipation of a snowy season, Schapiro said Ida indicated that it could be an effective tool in scenarios other than winter, including accidents. majors.

However, it is not intended to alert or help in isolated cases, for example, a driver running off the road into a snowdrift.

Its main goals are to be proactive and preventative, according to Schapiro.

“This is sort of a bigger incident where we have a road that for some reason part of it is closed, whether it’s winter weather or flooding,” said he declared.

511NJConnect is also not intended to replace 911, Schapiro said. If a driver has a medical or other emergency while driving, 911 should still be called.

But the system offers motorists a way to communicate with the NJDOT, helping the agency and others refine the information released and adopt an appropriate response.

“People can identify certain issues there, and that gives first responders a much better and broader picture of the incident and what’s going on,” Schapiro said.

Patrick Lavery is the New Jersey 101.5 afternoon news anchor. follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email [email protected].

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