Talking safety: States leverage social tools in winter travel messages

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. 

Screen capture image of WSDOT Flickr Image

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. 

Facebook screen captureMinnesota DOT is using Facebook to share this simple winter driving tips graphic. And,

ndor_twitterNebraska’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.



Author: Lloyd Brown

I am the director of communications for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. I enjoy running marathons and triathlons, playing guitar and spending time with family. My professional interest is in how social media and new technology shapes the communication relationship between government and the general public. I have a Master’s degree in Communications and Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Washington State University.

2 thoughts on “Talking safety: States leverage social tools in winter travel messages”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s