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Each year the Texas Transportation Instituteissues a report called, “Urban Mobility Information“. The Institute (or its predecessor) has been studying traffic and
congestion in 101 urban areas, including the Atlanta metro area, since 1982.

As a
car accident and truck accident lawyer, I find these statistics very revealing. They explain a great deal about
why our city has seen such an increase in traffic accidents and all the
human suffering that can result from them.

In 1982, when the statistics were first compiled, Atlanta was the 12th
largest city in the “Very Large City” category. It had 865,000
travelers on the roads during peak periods, and 778,000 commuters. Each
day, Atlanta drivers drove 14,270 “vehicle miles” on freeways
in the city of Atlanta. That year Atlanta had 1400 miles of freeway.

The numbers increased steadily over the years. Five years later, in 1987,
Atlanta was still the 12th largest city in the category of “Very
Large City.” Over a million travelers were on the roads during the
peak periods, and Atlanta now had 987,000 commuters. In the metro area,
Atlantans were driving 22,965,000 “vehicle miles” on the city’s
freeways. The number of “lane miles” of freeway had grown to 1645.

Five years later, in 1992, Atlanta was ranked the 11th largest city in
its category. 1,286,000 travelers were on Atlanta roads during peak periods,
and Atlanta now had over a million commuters – 1,157,000, per the
Institute’s statistics. The number of miles driven on freeways every
day jumped far more than the other statistics however, probably because
Atlanta has typically grown outward, into the suburban area around Atlanta.
Each day, 27,510,000 miles were driven on Atlanta’s freeways. The
number of “lane miles” of freeway had grown, too, to 2040
lane miles.

As great as the growth in miles driven on Atlanta’s freeways had
been, the 1992 numbers paled in comparison to the number of miles driven
each day in 1997; by that year, 39,650,000 miles were being driven on
the freeways each day. Furthermore, the number of commuters and travelers
during peak periods had exploded. Atlanta now had 1,456,000 commuters,
and 1,618,000 travelers were out on its highways during the peak periods.
; By contrast, the lane-miles of freeway had grown very little, up to
only 2240. Atlanta was still the 11th largest city in the Very Large City grouping.

The numbers grew unrelentingly over the next five years. By 2002, Atlanta
was still the 11th largest city in its group. Atlanta had 1,787,000 commuters,
and 1,985,000 travelers were now on the roads during peak periods. Each
day, vehicles drove 47,390,000 miles on freeways and highways in the Atlanta
metro area. The number of freeway lane-miles had grown to 2,470. Drivers
drove 47,830,000 miles on Atlanta freeways every day. The freeway lane-miles
had grown to 2525.

By 2007, Atlanta had become the 9th largest city in the “Very Large
City” category. It had 1,985,000 commuters, and 2,205,000 vehicles
were out on its roads during peak period.

The most recent statistics available from the Institute are for 2010. Atlanta
continued to grow, and had become the 8th largest city. Atlanta now had
2,099,000 people commuting to work, and 2,333,000 travelers were on Atlanta
roads during peak periods. Interestingly, the number of miles being driven
on Atlanta freeways each day had dropped – to 46,779,000. The number
of lane-miles of freeways in Atlanta had increased, but only very slightly,
to 2545 miles.

Although the numbers dropped a small amount in 2010, still they are dramatically
above what they were in 1982, when the study began. Without question this
marked increase in miles driven and people on Atlanta roads explains why
Atlanta has seen such a dramatic increase in
car accidents over the years.