It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not because it is the holiday season, although that is nice. It’s wonderful because we get to see state transportation agencies using the power of social media to help travelers around the country make it to grandma’s house safely.
The Weather Channel this week named the latest winter storm Draco, and as it blasts its way across the country, state agencies are using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube to help tell the story of what is happening on the roadways. Along the way, the agencies are injecting their messages with helpful safety tips and plenty of warnings to help travelers reach their destinations in one piece.
In Washington State, where the storm hit earlier this week, Flickr has proven useful in showing why roads are closed in the mountains. A common WSDOT best practice is to use the photo captions to help put the photos in context. In this instance, the trees and vehicles mix with people wandering on the roadway help explain that this road is going to be closed for a while.
Idaho DOT started ahead of the winter weather, posting a video message encouraging motorists to prepare for the upcoming storm, and including tips for sharing the road with snowplows.
Nebraska’s Department of Roads used Twitter to help explain why the state’s 5-1-1 system was running so slowly.
A few years ago, deploying these tools was innovative. Today, it is part of the process that communication teams across the country use to keep travelers informed of road conditions, route closures and safety messages.