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Study: Traffic Reports Are Often Wrong, Fictitious
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NEW YORK, NY - Audiences laughed at Les Nesman, fictional WKRP in Cincinnati's news anchor, as he beat his chest to simulate the sound of a helicopter for his broadcast. Little did those audiences realize how many news anchors weren't laughing. A study conducted by the Columbia University School of Journalism has concluded that 85% of the traffic news is either grossly wrong, or entirely made up.

The study was led by grad student Haley Lucent. "They would see their light come on and get this 'Oh no!' look on their face, then just start babbling. 'It looks pretty slow on the I-15 this morning, so if you're getting ready for work, you might want to get going a little early,' or some other real generic thing like that," she said. They sent twenty students to work as interns at twenty radio stations in and around New York. Each week the students brought their findings to class for a discussion. "These weren't simple errors," said Janet Wildermuth, "they were blatant lies in almost every case."

They broke their findings into three categories. The most common was information that was simply made up on the spot by the traffic reporter. The second most common was repeating the traffic report from a previous day. Most outrageous was the third category, reports made up that did not even involve real roads in the listening area. "We saw guys that literally made up highway names on the fly," said one student.

"What really mystifies us," said Lucent, "is that no listeners complained. Not a single caller to say, 'Hey, the I-90 is clear this morning' or 'Where's The Overland Viaduct? I've never heard of that.' We can only conclude that no one is really listening to traffic reports at all."
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