'While You Were Sleeping': TransGuide crew keeps an eye on overnight traffic

TxDOT's transportation monitoring system alerts drivers to trouble

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter, Tim Stewart - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Whether he’s focusing in on the monitor of his PC, or getting a glimpse through giant HD television screens, Victor Gil always has his eyes on San Antonio’s roads.

He is an Operator 3 for TransGuide, an intelligent traffic monitoring system created by the local sector of the Texas Department of Transportation.

“We handle a lot of the accidents and major accidents and tried to divert or let the public know where the incident is,” Gil said. “If it really needs our attention as far as our manpower, we start making phone calls.”

Quite often, though, Gil can help drivers avoid problems through a few clicks of his computer mouse.

With the use of a series of templates, he creates the messages that appear on lighted signs along the local highways, warning drivers about closures, congestion or construction.

They also can be used to display information in the event of a child abduction or Silver Alert where the incident involved a car.

However, while the signs also are known for displaying clever messages about road safety, Gil said he can’t take credit for those.

They originate at a central office in Austin.

Still, he says his aim is to help drivers get where they’re going as quickly and safely as possible.

Gil and others who work inside the multi-story TransGuide headquarters building, located on the Northwest side near the Interstate 10 and Loop 410 exchange, stay on top of what is happening on the roads through a series of cameras.

When they notice an accident or slowed traffic, they can alert other agencies that may be required to respond, such as police and fire.

Every now and then, though, Gil said he sees things that surprise him.

“People not in their right mind running around, you know, sporting their birthday suit,” he said, ticking off some examples.

Even after nearly 20 years on the job, Gil said some of the more tragic incidents still get to him.

While attempting to talk about it, he momentarily broke down, nearly in tears.

“I don't know why I'm breaking down,” he said, “but I saw a lot of bad stuff.”

His goal every day is to help drivers avoid all of that.

He said based on his experience, staying safe on the road is as easy as following three simple steps.

“Drive safe. Do the speed limit. Be courteous of others,” Gil said.

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