SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Social media can be very handy when you want to keep in touch with friends, or get instant updates on current events. Now, the South Dakota Highway Patrol has tapped into this new-age communication to become more accessible to the public.
"Facebook seems to get out to more people in a quicker manner. With society changing the way they're doing things, we think that the social media sites are the faster way to get information out there," Lt. Rick Miller said.
The idea to utilize sites like Facebook and Twitter came from a few highway patrol troopers who suggested making the department a little more accessible to those it serves.
"It's just a way to interact with the public so if they have some questions for us, they too can ask us through Facebook. And we utilize the staff that we have that's using Facebook to answer those questions in a timely manner," Col. Craig Price said.
The department's social media pages not only serve as a way to field questions, it's also a great way to keep track of the most current road conditions.
"As most know, the weather changes quickly and it affects the roads and the way people travel. So anytime we can put that information out there with people on mobile devices. We'll put road closures, or no-travel advisories so people see it very quickly," Lt. Miller said.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol started its social media pages this past summer and has already seen a great response from the public.
"Over the weeks, monitoring it, our website traffic has reduced while the social media, Twitter and Facebook, both increased," Lt. Miller said.
And troopers say this is an easy way for them to reach out to the public with information about their needs as a department.
"We've also found some additional benefit from it. Hopefully getting our name out there and our message and allowing some folks to maybe recognize they'd like to come and work for us. So we are trying to use it as a recruiting tool as well," Col. Price said.
No matter how you use these social media resources, the troopers think it could become a vital part of South Dakotans' everyday lives.
"Whether it's a road closure or some significant event, we need to notify the public of, it's a great place to do that. It gets our message across in a quick, timely manner," Lt. Miller said.
Although the troopers will use their social media pages to update road conditions, Colonel Price says the best place for weather-related traffic information is www.safetravelusa.com.
You can follow the Highway Patrol on Twitter and subscribe to the Highway Patrol's Facebook page.
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