Gridlock Guy: Viewers, listeners ask tough questions

One of the best parts of my job is the interaction with listeners and viewers and the immediate feedback I get from both. If I go on the air on radio and report incorrect traffic conditions, I hear from drivers right away. It is that instant reaction that really makes me strive to always get the information correct and on the air in a timely manner. I, along with the rest of the traffic team, hate being wrong. But, when we are wrong, we certainly hear about it.

For those of you that don’t know, you can call the WSB Traffic Center day or night (404-897-7358 or #750 on Verizon Wireless phones) to report on traffic conditions or to ask traffic related questions. Over the past 16 years I’ve built very strong relationships with “Traffic Troopers” that call in during their daily commute. The real challenge is not taking updates from callers, but answering questions from callers. Here are some of the most popular questions that I am asked by drivers:

Q: I was late for work because of traffic. Is there anyway you can tell my boss that it wasn’t my fault?

A: Maybe. Depending on where you were driving to and from, I can often confirm or deny whether or not traffic was bad enough to warrant you being late to work. Over the years I have emailed or talked on the phone to many employers to let them know that their employee had a valid reason to be late. It’s not automatic, however. If your story doesn’t jibe with what the traffic was doing, you’re on your own.

Q: I was in an accident. I need to prove it wasn’t my fault. Do you record video from the traffic cameras?

A: Unfortunately, we do not record video from the traffic cameras. With hundreds of DOT cameras all over the state, it would be impossible for us to record and store all of that footage. The only time we have a recording of traffic cameras or helicopter footage for that matter, is if it makes in onto the air on Channel 2. If we don’t show it on the air, we don’t have a record of it.

Q: I need to be at the airport at 11 a.m. What’s the best way I should go?

A: It depends. Usually I get this call at 6 a.m. While I’m good at my job, its very tough for me to predict traffic conditions five hours into the future. Too much can change. Most times I tell callers that ask this question to call back when they are about to leave the house. Then I can usually tell them the best route to take.

Q: What’s going on, on (fill in the road here)?

A: I get this question daily. “What’s going on, on Interstate 75?” Well sir, we cover over 100 miles of I-75 in our traffic reports, so you are going to have to narrow it down just a bit. Best advice, when calling to ask me a traffic question, be as specific as possible: “What’s going on, on I-75 north in Clayton County?”

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