Maryland to implement text messaging system for drivers stuck in storms

Drivers were stranded for hours in a snowstorm in Virginia last month, and one of their main complaints was that they didn’t know what was going on.

In Maryland, officials are looking for ways to make sure that doesn’t happen to drivers in their state. They’re planning to roll out a system to send notifications to phones of commuters who find themselves in an area where there’s a major road closure.

The Washington Post reported that the company, called Information Logistics, will develop the program to sends notifications to the phones of people who have been stuck for about two hours.

The messages will contain details of the problem and allow drivers to sign up for text message updates. It will also allow drivers to text directly to highway officials, explaining what they need or giving updates on the situation that officials can’t see.

“The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration has recently signed an agreement to implement the Highway Emergency Linked Platform based on positive results from our neighboring state of Pennsylvania,” the agency told WTOP. “We are currently finalizing standard operating procedures and hope to have the system operational this summer.”

The company has set up similar programs in Pennsylvania, Georgia and New Jersey.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said in a statement: “The Highway Emergency Linked Platform is one tactic VDOT is exploring and may add to our emergency response toolbox. The team is connecting with peers in other state departments of transportation to gauge their experiences and understand better what may work for the commonwealth.”

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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