RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- You can get national and international news almost instantly through smartphone apps and social media sites like Twitter, and now local law enforcement is stepping up their social media presence to help you navigate the winter driving hazards.
"I think everybody has a level of frustration when they're stuck in traffic," said NHP Trooper Chuck Allen. "They don't know what's going on."
So Allen says the NHP is working to ease that frustration by giving updates via social media.
"If we have a weather-related event, highway-related event, a crash that's blocking traffic we can attempt to get that word out quickly," Allen said.
And you can choose how you get that word.
"It will be blasted out via Nixle and then it'll also be tweeted out and sent out on Facebook as well," Allen said.
If you're not into social media, you can also get the information online.
"The nevadadot.com website lists all the road controls and that's updated constantly," Allen said. "The NHP incident report is also posted on their website and that's updated every three minutes."
But that doesn't mean you can check your phone while driving.
"If you are snarled in traffic, hypothetically, you're stuck," Allen said. "You can't move. The people behind you can't move. You're still operating a motor vehicle."
Allen says people often use their phones while stopped in traffic or at a redlight - and it's illegal.
"If you're in a travel lane and the vehicle is in gear and the engine is running that is operating a motor vehicle as it relates to the cell phone law," Allen said.
So, if you can, pull over. If you're really stuck, Allen says it's safer to check updates on your phone if you're parked.
The same rules apply for phone calls, which you can also use to check conditions.
"You can have a passenger in your car dial 511," Allen said. "Type in or plug in the highway number on your phone."
You'll get the current road and weather conditions for your location.
Allen says these tools - when used safely and legally - can make a big difference.
"I think that just having that knowledge as quickly as you can often helps motorists with their decisions on how to get home safely and to navigate around those obstacles," Allen said.