DriveBC was founded in 2005. (DriveBC photo)

DriveBC was founded in 2005. (DriveBC photo)

Behind the scenes of highway closures and DriveBC

What goes on when the highway closes so you can get up to date information

We all know that sinking feeling – maybe you’re commuting or trying to get away for a vacation, and you see the highway is closed.

The first thing that many do is check DriveBC, a website and social media account that provides current road conditions, upcoming notifications on delays and updates on ongoing closures.

DriveBC, which was launched in 2005, is the most frequently visited government website, according to the provincia government, providing its services provincewide, 24 hours a day.

Despite how popular the service is, many people don’t realize what goes in to running DriveBC.

With a dedicated team of 16 staff, DriveBC acts as a relayer of information between those operating and maintaining highway closures and the travelling public.

According to Porya Khorsandi, the supervisor of the Transportation Management Centre, which runs the DriveBC account, DriveBC has to wait for emergency services or a maintenance contractor to arrive on scene and alert them before they can post an active event.

While they may here reports of a closure, Khorsandi says nothing is reported on the website without confirmation on the ground.

“We’ve learned from our lessons in the past of putting out something because someone said it. You need to have someone label that, whether it’s police, ambulance, to provide the information,” said Khorsandi.

“Unless there’s actual footage, we can’t just post.

“When there’s actual footage, that’s helped a lot in the past, to see the direction of the incident and the severity, we can actually pass that information along to the maintenance contractors.”

Estimated times of reopening are not calculated by DriveBC, but rather are decided by those overseeing the closure.

It can get a bit hairy when estimated reopenings keep getting pushed back, with people channeling their frustrations at DriveBC, despite them having no control over the situation, she said.

“We know that Twitter can be a place to vent frustrations, and we get it, we’re members of the travelling public too and it can be frustrating to be stuck and waiting for information,” said Khorsandi.

“We don’t want to harass the contractors but we also want to dig out as much information as we can, we understand both sides.

“But we do provide extensive training to the team to let them know that this isn’t the kind of thing to take personally. It can be tough to see those negative messages, but we don’t take it personally and we’re thankful for those that come to defend us on Twitter.”

Khorsandi says it’s important to check for ongoing events and closures before leaving, and to always have a back up plan.

TransCanada