NDDOT prioritizes public safety: technology updates help drivers during winter weather

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 6:12 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Snow is on the way later this week, but luckily for us, there are plenty of online resources to help us travel safely or keep track of friends and family who may be traveling.

Brandon Beise of the North Dakota Department of Transportation says ND residents have a new way to stay safe and travel smart this winter season. Motorists can now get real-time road images, highway closures and snowplow tracking.

“It’s cool because you can see where the trucks are, so if you know there’s a truck in your area you can expect to see it coming down your state highway in the near future, or maybe it has just gone past your mailbox,” said Brandon Beise, maintenance operation section supervisor at Bismarck NDDOT.

Although the NDDOT says these resources are helpful in keeping travelers safe, surprisingly not everyone knows about or uses these online functions.

“I didn’t, but it sure would be handy. You know, my husband travels a lot for work, and I’m always kind of worried about the roads and hoping he’s paying attention to things. Maybe with two of us paying attention, it will be a little better,” said a Bismarck resident.

Currently, about 150 snowplows have the tracking technology, but Beise says that ideally, all 350 plows in North Dakota will have this feature in the future. Being able to track where the plows have been is useful in driving across the state or even within one city safely.

“We definitely see spikes before, during, and after storms, major storms like this that are in the forecast. And then any time that we have any major highway closures like that too, the public really wants to know what the road conditions are,” said Beise.

The NDDOT is always working at improving existing technology, as well as introducing new and improved features. The roadside cameras offer new pictures every 5-10 minutes, allowing travelers to see road conditions, and new tracking technology is currently being piloted on 10 Bismarck snowplows.

“Now that I know I definitely would, you know, and I’m hoping it’s easy to use, user-friendly, because I’m not always real great with computer stuff, but yeah, that would be great,” said a Bismarck resident.

For those who have not used the travel map and its resources before, NDDOT has made it simple to navigate. The public can find it on travel.dot.nd.gov, or an app can be downloaded onto a smartphone, so travel updates are at the palm of your hand.

New and improved tracking technology is estimated to be available for public use by the end of this year for Bismarck snowplows.