'511' Receives Bad Reviews

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To get the latest road conditions here in Nevada you can call the state's automated phone line, 511, or for California information you can use 1-800-427-ROAD, but before you pick up the phone take note, Nevada's 511 line is not getting the best of reviews.

Imagine what it's like when you're already on the road, it's freezing and the weather is getting worse by the second. Some say '511' just isn't effective. Benicia, California resident Michael Navoa called to find out how the roads are on the way to his hometown in the Bay Area, but he says he just doesn't trust the voice on the other end of the line.

"They were saying some people out here don't need chains but when I listened to the station, they tell you chains are mandatory. They're saying roads are open with no chains. I didn't understand it."

Department of Transportation officials say they update the system every four minutes, depending on the amount of snow falling, but even if '511' is current, people say it's still confusing, especially the voice activation feature that never seems to understand what they're saying.

Even more frustrating for some, especially out-of-towners, '511' assumes you're familiar with the roads even when you're not.

"It really wasn't specific enough. The directions, you know, they said from California state line to 95 junction. We're not from around here so I have no idea where that is. It would have been better if it said from California to Reno, you know a little more specific," said Josh Sorenson of Chico, California.

To be fair, there are some travelers who rely on '511,' and say they don't see how anyone could be confused by those three little numbers. Take Kapil Vaish of Santa Clara, for example.

"Oh it's very helpful. For any traveler, '511' is a must."

DOT officials say they've received a lot of comments about the '511' hotline and they are aware of some of the problems with it. If you want to make a suggestion to the Department of Transportation on how '511' can be improved, you can actually dial '511' and leave a voice message at the end of the recording.

You can also visit our homepage for current road conditions.