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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

511 Traveler Information


Problem: Access to 511 traveler information systems remains limited

Telephone services for travelers provide real-time information about work zones, traffic incidents, and other causes of congestion. They allow travelers to make more informed decisions about their travel routes or modes, and increase safety by helping motorists avoid areas with congestion or incidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) petitioned the Federal Communications Commission in 1999 for a three-digit dialing code for travel information, and was assigned 511 in 2000. In 2001, the Cincinnati, OH area became the first in the country to use 511 for travel information.


Why is 511 needed?

Before the 511 dialing code was assigned for travel information, more than 300 different telephone numbers provided travel information in the United States. A test drive in 1999 showed that 11 different numbers were required to access travel information on a trip from Washington, DC to New York, NY. As 10-digit phone numbers and new area codes proliferate, a single, easy-to-remember number will help local and interstate travelers and shippers avoid delays and save time.


How widespread are 511 services?

Nearly 156 million Americans, or almost 54 percent, now have access to 511 services. Since 2001, systems have been deployed in all or parts of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Other States are planning to implement 511 systems.


Putting It in Perspective

  • Over 2 million calls were made to 511 in October 2008, bringing the total number of 511 calls to more than 119 million.
  • Almost 54 percent of Americans have access to 511 services.
  • By 2010, the majority of the country is expected to have 511 access.


Solution: Increasing access to 511 services will help travelers make better decisions

The USDOT is facilitating national implementation of 511 systems to make real-time traveler information more widely available to motorists. It is working with a 511 Deployment Coalition that includes the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and American Public Transportation Association.

USA map in year 2008 depicting 511 deployment as follows: Active states = Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alaska, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Northern California. Assist $- Southern California, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York


National Deployment Statement
The 511 system provides an easy-to-remember, three-digit telephone number that enables transportation agencies to provide multimodal travel information. Travelers with easier access to real-time information about travel conditions and modes are able to make smarter decisions regarding their intended trips and can avoid traffic congestion, thereby helping to improve the overall performance of the transportation network.

National Deployment Goal
In 2009, 70 percent of the country is expected to have 511 access.

National Deployment Status
Nearly 136 million Americans, or 47 percent, now have access to 511 services. Since 2001, systems have been deployed in all or parts of AK, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OR, RI, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, and WY. New York City and Wisconsin will implement 511 systems in November, with Southern California, Pennsylvania and Maryland planning launches in 2009.

Phase of Deployment

PHASE III-Delivery Activities

  • Face-to-face communication
  • Conduct presentations
  • Conduct pilot
  • Conduct training and education
  • Public/ private partnerships


Additional Resources

The 511 Deployment Coalition has developed quality and service guidelines for 511 systems. The guidelines and other tools for 511 deployment are available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/511.htm.


For More Information Contact:

Robert Rupert, FHWA Office of Operations
robert.rupert@dot.gov, 202-366-2194

Mac Lister, FHWA Resource Center
mac.lister@dot.gov, 708-283-3532


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