AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin metro area saw 460 traffic incidents reported Wednesday amid the ongoing ice storm — a record daily total that just edged past the 440 incident reports received during a past winter storm on Feb. 12, 2021, according to city data.
Those traffic incident numbers come from Austin’s “real-time traffic incident reports” database, which tracks certain types of incident calls. The database holds reports from mid-September 2017 to the present. It includes traffic hazards, urgent crashes, collisions, stalled vehicles, crashes with injury, icy roads, loose livestock, vehicle fires and more.
Reports of traffic hazards and debris have been the most common this week. There were 591 of those between Tuesday and Thursday morning. KXAN has mapped all the incident reports received since Tuesday. Click on the points to see the date, time and type of incident below.
Austin’s Top-10 days with most traffic incident reports
There have been numerous spikes in daily traffic incident reports over the past five years. Wednesday saw the most in a single day since Sept. 25, 2017, when the database’s records begin.
Most days with the highest reported incidents coincide with extreme weather events.
Top 10 daily traffic incident report totals since September 2017:
- 02/01/2023 – 460
- 02/12/2021 – 440
- 05/04/2018 – 394
- 05/04/2019 – 382
- 02/14/2021 – 371
- 05/29/2021 – 355
- 06/10/2019 – 350
- 10/25/2019 – 345
- 12/06/2017 – 331
- 04/13/2018 – 323
Traffic signal problems
Traffic problems haven’t been confined to debris and collisions. Traffic signals across town have been affected, too.
As of noon Thursday, the Austin Transportation Department said it was unable to access data from 40% of its 1,050 signals, and there were about 25 signals in flash mode.
ATD’s signal monitor provides real time information on traffic lights across the city. The monitor showed 450 signals had communication issues on Thursday morning.
“When a power outage occurs, we lose communications to the signal and are no longer able to monitor the signal and determine if it is in flash or operating normally,” an ATD spokesperson said. “Therefore, the number of signals in flash is likely higher than that reported on the Signal Monitor page.”
An offline signal may not be in an all-way flash mode or completely dark, but that the Management Center cannot communicate with it. Crews must make field visits to register those signals’ status and repair them, according to the city.
About half of the city’s signals have four- or six-hour battery backups. After six hours, those lights go dark until they’re repaired.
On Wednesday, about one-third of the city’s traffic signals were offline. At that time, ATD said there were 25 traffic signals in “flash mode” and approximately 375 signals were unable to connect with ATD’s Mobility Management Center.
If residents sees a damaged or downed street signal or sign, they can report it by calling 3-1-1, using 3-1-1’s mobile app or filling out an online form.