By: Charles Bowen
Some refer to modern time as The Computer Age and Americans as Children of Television. We’ve also grown up to become The Interstate Generation. As citizens of an ever-more mobile nation, we can put a thousand miles on our cars in a single weekend. So, more than ever before, road conditions and travel-related weather reports have become as important to some of our readers as stock market figures and the daily sports stats.
But since editors can never know where these various family adventures and business trips are taking our fellow citizens, how can a local news operation report on road conditions for hundreds of miles in all directions? It can’t, of course. What journalists can do is teach their readers how to find specific travel information for themselves, using the Web.
A site called Highways.tv provides a handy collection of Web links arranged by state. It offers the latest information on traffic snarls and construction spots, as well as live camera feeds of roadways. It is an ideal site to use before long-distance treks, of course, but it also can be consulted before that daily commute in most congested urban areas.
To use the resource, visit the site at http://www.highways.tv, where the introductory page greets you with a list of linked state names and a hyperlinked map of the United States. For most areas, the site has links to that state’s own highway department, with guides to alert drivers to construction work and maintenance projects that will affect traffic flow as well as road conditions and cautions. For some states, there also are updates on especially congested areas, information on road closings because of weather conditions, bulletins about traffic-snarling crashes, and maintenance work in urban areas.
And be sure to scroll the screen for special links that the site has collected. For instance, in its data about Ohio, the site has links to specific road facts for Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, including real-time traffic information.
Speaking of scrolling, be sure to check out the bottom of the main Highways.tv page. There the site keeps an updated collection of related traffic links from all around the Net, such as the Rand McNally road construction information database as well as similar information from the American Automobile Association. Of particular interest will be the site’s links to assorted travel weather, including AccuWeather’s travel data, as well as related information from Intellicast, the National Weather Service, and USA Today.
Other considerations for using Highways.tv in your writing and editing:
1. Some states have region-specific search engines through QuickAid.com linked through Highways.tv. The service defaults to finding airport information, but also can be used to locate assorted businesses, schools, entertainment, lodging, car rental services, and more in that state. Look below the U.S. map on the introductory page for the latest list of states. At this writing, there are about a dozen. Click a state name to go directly to that state’s data entry box.
2. The site prominently connects to a service called the Online Highway City Guide. Links at the top of the introductory page and on each of the state summary pages take you to ohwy.com. From there you can select a U.S. state or Canadian province, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands. On subsequent pages are sections devoted to art, education, entertainment, food and lodging, history, outdoor activities, music, shopping, even science and real estate. Great find for travel writers!
3. Scroll the same ohwy.com page for any selected state to find links to specific cities in that state, with information on points of interest, major employers, lodging, and history.