DOT's tweets helping motorists dodge traffic nightmares

SEATTLE - We all know traffic can be a nightmare - we see it almost every morning and during the evening commute. But using social media can help you avoid the big messes.

With nearly 24,000 Twitter followers and counting, the state Department of Transportation's headquarters in Shoreline recognizes the passage of information has changed.

KOMO works with them every day - following their Twitter account that's fast, informative and witty.

Every weekday morning, WSDOT's Mike Allende alerts drivers to anything that will slow them down - road closures, construction projects or accidents.

DOT's Twitter feed is growing in popularity because of it's wit, like this tweet: "This car on the shoulder of I-90 is steamed about something. Maybe it's a 49ers fan?"

Allende says: "If it's something that calls for humor then you would go to that. But if there's injuries you try to stay away from it."

Humor isn't always appropriate. For instance, KOMO's cameras were rolling as WSDOT dealt with a serious accident an overturned log truck on I-405 last week.

"I'm just using Twitter to let people know what the situation is. Tweeting some pictures out, so they can kind of see the scope of what's going on and just encouraging people to avoid that area," Allende said.

It's all about getting drivers to avoid the trouble spots before they get on the road.

Harmony Weinberg works the page during the evening drive.

"It's really an incredible tool, where we can quickly get that information out," Weinberg said.

And there's lots of information to manage. The Shoreline office monitors conditions on more than 5oo cameras in King, Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties.

"I know the area, and nobody likes to be stuck in traffic. So I like to put myself into their shoes," Allende said.