JOHNSTOWN -- For the long-haul trucker and the vacationing family driving cross-country, knowing which is the road less traveled can make all the difference.

The Colorado Department of Transportation long has kept track of highway and traffic conditions and shared that information with motorists. Now it's adding a new way to inform drivers.

"COTrip Kiosks" - video screens that scroll highway and weather condition information 24 hours a day - are being set up in truck stops across the state.

The project, a partnership of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, the state Transportation Department and Walmart, will be launched officially at 11 a.m. Thursday with a press conference at the Johnson's Corner truck stop south of Loveland.

The Transportation Department has remote video cameras set up at key points along the highway system, and those live feeds are available on the state website, Highway condition reports also are available on the website and by calling 511.

The truck stop large-screen kiosks broadcast a rotating set of the live webcam images, plus scrolling lists of highway conditions, closures and other alerts.

Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, said the video views constitute an important part of the service. A driver might hear about snowy conditions ahead, "but a picture tells a much better story," he said.

His organization, which represents more than 600 companies involved with trucking in Colorado, initiated the truck stop kiosk idea, using CDOT's software and constantly updated data.

Walmart donated 20 42-inch TVs to get the program started, he said. So far, seven truck stops in Colorado have the kiosks, and he hopes to have more than 30 participating within the next 12 months.

In addition to Johnson's Corner, the first kiosks are going in at truck stops in Commerce City, Wiggins, Grand Junction, Limon, Watkins, Fountain, Walsenburg and Glenwood Springs, according to the trucking association.

[you: can cut: ]"We anticipate that some of the other truck stops will add some of the monitors themselves as this goes along," Fulton said Wednesday.

[you: can cut: ]The original idea, he said, was to make the information more accessible to truck drivers so they could plan their routes wisely. All other travelers can benefit as well, he said.

[you: can cut: ]"Our priority is highway safety," he said.

Fulton said Johnson's Corner, which has three of the kiosks operating, was the first truck stop to participate.

On Wednesday afternoon, four truck drivers were watching TV in the drivers' lounge where one of the kiosks is installed on the wall. They agreed the new service could be useful.

To get his road condition information, Wichita, Kan., resident Curtis Franklin said, "I listen to the radio or CB - CB mostly."

Would he take advantage of the information scrolling across the screen? "Oh yeah, especially if it's up to the minute," he said.

Craig Young can be reached at 635-3634 or [email protected].