Bogus NCDOT traffic alert blames crash on 'Women Drivers, Rain, Obama Care'

Posted by Bruce Siceloff on November 6, 2013 

— It looked like the work of a hacker, or maybe a state Department of Transportation engineer with a sour sense of humor.

DOT’s Traveler Information Management System uses email and Twitter to crank out scores of alerts every day about accidents and road work affecting traffic on North Carolina highways. What appeared to be a routine notice at 3:52 p.m. Wednesday announced that a crash had closed an exit ramp on I-440 East in Raleigh.

Then came the odd details:

“Women Drivers, Rain, Obama Care

“Stay Home”

The sun was shining Wednesday afternoon, so we can rule out any talk of blaming the Beltline accident – if there was an accident – on rain.

But what kind of person was expressing skewed views about female motorists and President Obama’s health insurance overhaul? It was a careless insider, DOT said.

“We did not get hacked,” DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau said at 5:15 p.m. “After an investigation this afternoon we learned that an (information technology) contractor who was hired six months ago was performing routine tests on the TIMS feed. And that individual violated procedures by failing to turn off the external feed while testing, and for the inappropriate message content.

“That individual was let go immediately.”

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