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It isn’t hard to figure out that the most dangerous counties in Georgia for car accidents are in the Atlanta Metro area. As part of my Atlanta car accident injury practice, I like to keep track of what the Georgia Department of Transportation (“GA DOT”) says about Atlanta and Georgia highways.

In 2008, the GA DOT published statistics that show you are more likely to be in a wreck in Clayton, Cobb, Cherokee, DeKalb, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Hall, Henry, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Spalding, White, than just about anywhere else in Georgia. Most of us would have figured that much out. (I was surprised to see that Gwinnett is not on the list of counties in which you are most likely to be in a wreck.) 2008 GA DOT Report.pdf

But even though you are more likely to be in a wreck in one of the Atlanta Metro counties, the Georgia DOT released a statistic that will probably surprise you: you are at greater risk of being killed in a car accident in the far less populated counties around Georgia, than you are in the Metro area.

Drivers in Quitman County, which had a population of only 2513 in the 2000 census, have a higher risk of death in a car wreck than drivers in the Metro Atlanta area do.

The Department of Transportation notes that the map of the counties in which you are at highest risk for wrecks are almost “the mirror image” of the counties where you are at high risk for fatal wrecks. According to the 2008 report, “Even though more crashes occur in the five Atlanta metropolitan counties more people die in rural counties.” In Glascock County, population 3082, you are more likely to die in a car wreck.

Why on earth would that be?

The Department of Transportation explains that all of that heavy Atlanta traffic and congestion slows drivers down. So while drivers in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett are likely to be in fender benders, they are driving slower, and so they are less likely to be killed in a car wreck.

The Georgia DOT also blames the two-lane roads commonly found in rural areas. These roads are often narrow and curvy, giving drivers limited visibility. The roads often do not have a shoulder to act as a margin of error, or for a disabled vehicle to pull to the side out of the way of oncoming vehicles. Furthermore, while the big highways in the metro area are all limited access roads, in rural areas cars regularly enter and exit the main roads. All of these factors make rural roads more dangerous – in terms of fatalities — than urban roads.

While it occurred to me that another reason that more fatalities occur may be that medical help is further away when someone has a rural Georgia car accident, the GA DOT cautioned that while that may be so, the congestion in urban Atlanta slows ambulances and emergency vehicles down, so that medical help is not so nearby as you might think, even in the biggest counties. Thus, even though medical care may be nearby in bigger counties like Clayton, Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinnett, due to traffic, it may take you just as long to get there as it would take someone who had had a wreck on a rural road.