How the Iowa DOT Works to Keep People Safe During Winter Storms

ANKENY, Iowa -- When winter weather strikes, plow drivers have to know where to go, and experts can tell them based on what they're seeing at the the DOT command center in Ankeny.

About 400 cameras, over 400 snow plow trucks and the Waze app reports all play a part in the Iowa DOT`s mission to keep people safe during a winter weather event. All of that information goes into what you see on 511ia.org

“Our highway maintenance supervisors at the garage level are putting in all of the road conditions as they change, so those are accurate and timely. And so we are using their information to help put out messages to the traveling public,” said Bonnie Castillo of the Iowa DOT Traffic Management Center.

The manager of the Iowa DOT Traffic Management Center says message boards out on the roads aren`t just for funny slogans. They carry crash information and even weather advisories.

“We are trying to be very proactive and get messages out, so if we can tell the traveling public what they should expect, they can change their travel plans, they could detour onto a route that`s not affected by weather or by an incident. And making these decisions available to the public could result in not having a crash,” said Castillo.

But the Iowa DOT cameras don`t reach everywhere, so they rely on reports from the community on the Waze driving and navigation app.

“We`re able to see what`s being reported by the public. The only thing that we do ask is do not report while you are driving. We don`t want distracted driving, but it is very useful especially where there`s not cameras available to us,” said Castillo.

Make sure you're watching those message boards out on the major highways and also check out the Iowa DOT website, 511ia.org, before you head out.

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