A new survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) of 32 state Departments of Transportation (DOT) agencies found that 26 states (81%) are now using Twitter to communicate with travelers when major traffic incidents or severe weather such as snow storms, hurricanes and tornadoes force road closures or detours.

Further, almost half of all the states surveyed (14) have an active Facebook page, with 23 state DOTs using video on their website, while 18 states having an active YouTube channel. Since the survey was completed, at least three other states have also begun to use Twitter, AASHTO said.

“Using social media tools allows us to carry messages to constituents through the forums they already use rather than expecting them to seek us out,” said Washington State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We have improved our agency's credibility with the public, improved communication efficiency and saved taxpayers money.”

Overall, state DOTs are finding that social media are decidedly more efficient in reaching the public with time-sensitive traffic and travel information, according AASHTO’s survey. Among the various new social media tools, respondents found Twitter (65%), RSS feeds (56%), podcasts (18%) and Facebook (13%) to be the most effective method to reach their primary audiences.

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