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Navigation tips for using Iowa's 511 phone service

The following tips will help you successfully navigate through the voice-activated phone menu system. 511 is an automated system and you will be listening to a computer-generated operator.

Getting started: Dial 511 (within Iowa). If you are calling from outside Iowa's coverage area or if your phone service provider does not yet participate in the 511 effort, you will need to dial 800-288-1047.

Welcome message: Once connected, you will hear a welcome message with instructions on how to proceed. To skip the introduction, immediately say the route number you want.

How it's organized: Below are the menu options.

  • Press 1 or say “Road reports” – reports by route number
  • Press 2 or say “Metro reports” – reports by metro region
  • Press3 or say “Trucker’s reports” – reports including size and weight restrictions
  • Press 4 or say “Nearby states’ 511” – phone numbers for surrounding states’ 511 phone systems
  • Press ## or say “help” – instructions on use of 511

Return to main menu: To return to the main menu at any time during your call, simply press "0" or say "menu" and you will be taken to the main menu where you can make a selection.

Getting help: Say "help" or press ## (pound) key on you phone's keypad at any time during your call for more instructions on how to use 511.

Voice- or keypad-activated: You can speak or use your phone's keypad to make requests while using 511. For example, you can request reports for U.S. 30 by saying "30" or by pressing 30# on your keypad. The voice-activated feature uses advanced technology to interpret your responses. There are some instances when it cannot interpret the response based on the caller's speech patterns or background noise. If the system is unable to interpret your command, it will ask that you enter your response as a number(s) on your keypad.

Repeat information: To repeat a report, say "go back" or "repeat that."

Lack of response: If you don't respond to the system operator or it doesn't understand you, you will be returned to the main menu.

Using your wireless phone: Information regarding road and traffic conditions can be a valuable tool en route decision-making. Should I consider taking another route? Are road conditions deteriorating and is it time for me to find a safe place to wait for improved conditions? Motorist safety is the Iowa DOT's number one priority. Therefore, the Iowa DOT encourages responsible use of your wireless phone. That means pulling off at a rest area, fueling station, restaurant or other location to make your call. (Parking on the shoulder of an interstate highway for nonemergency purposes is illegal in Iowa.)