Traffic reporters typically work for a local television or radio news team in an area where vehicular traffic is a key concern for commuters. Typically, these are high-population media markets with both urban and suburban sprawl and the heavy traffic of “rush hour” which commuters must face in the mornings and afternoons. Traffic reporters provide information related to patterns and traffic flow and alert motorists of accidents, construction, and other occurrences that may worsen traffic on a given day.
Most traffic reporters rely on computerized data telemetry and data collection which record traffic throughout busy highways and thoroughfares. The reporter can then analyze the flow of traffic, make determinations for how it is moving and at what speeds, and provide this information at regular intervals either on-camera or over the radio to the media audience. While in the past traffic reporters used helicopters for direct visual reporting, this expensive practice is somewhat on the wane, as visual sensors are considered more cost-effective and provide similar data.
Today, many traffic reporters also heavily monitor police and emergency scanners to convey breaking information related to accidents or car breakdowns and how they may be affecting traffic flow. Even when a vehicular incident does not block traffic, it may hinder movement as motorists slow down to carefully pass the scene. These reporters may also work closely with regional and local transportation departments to advise listeners of any construction or repair work which can also constrict a commute. Whenever possible, the traffic reporter will also attempt to advise the audience of alternate route suggestions when heavily-utilized roadways are too constricted.
Most traffic reporters have some kind of educational background in broadcasting, either from a university, community college, or vocational school in the field. Traffic reporters may be assigned to morning or afternoon commute work, or even both. As such, the job can involve long days from pre-dawn hours in the morning to the evening conclusion of rush hour traffic. Most reporters spend time working in media-related offices as well as in on-air studios for either radio or television.