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State wants more motorists to report hazards

Nov 23, 2012 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The Wyoming Department of Transportation is looking to expand participation in a program where motorists report hazardous road and weather conditions.

The Enhanced Citizen-Assisted Reporting is similar to how the National Weather Service uses weather spotters.

Motorists who volunteer to be an ECAR participant are first trained by WyDOT staff on what to report. They then can call and relay real-time information back to the state.

"The reason we started it is because our plows can't be out everywhere, and we needed to get some more eyes out there," said Cheryl Argento, a quality analyst with WyDOT's Transportation Management Center and head of the ECAR program. "(The volunteers) are trained to report slick roads, wind, blowing snow and all of that, and it has really helped."

Argento said volunteers also report other hazardous conditions, including deer near the highway, rock slides, debris on the road and large potholes.

ECAR was started as a pilot program in 2006 with just three volunteers in the northwest corner of the state. It was later expanded statewide and now has about 300 volunteers. These include many commercial drivers, as well as residents who routinely travel.

But Argento said they want more volunteers because the more information they receive, the better the state can send advisories or prioritize where it dispatches plows or road crews.

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