A Georgia DOT report, Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information Notebook
2008, has some surprising information about frontal collisions. Certainly
you might expect that more people would be killed in head-on collisions
in more populous counties, because more people are on the roads in the
counties. And, at least on that point, the report confirms exactly what
you might expect. However, the report also has a surprising piece of information: the
rate — as opposed to the sheer
number — of frontal collision deaths is higher in rural and smaller counties
than in some of the biggest counties in the state.
The Georgia Law: Maintaining Lane of Travel
You probably would guess that a head-on car crash would be a pretty rare
event. After all, by definition, if two cars hit front bumper to front
bumper, at least one of the cars was in the wrong place. (The one exception
might be a single-lane road, of which Georgia has precious few.)
In fact, full frontal collisions are less common than rear-end accidents.
But as a head-on car crash lawyer, I represent people who have been in
these head-on car accidents, and so I know how serious these wrecks can be.
You do not have to be an attorney handling head-on car crash lawsuits to
figure out that something has gone wrong when two cars crash head-to-head.
The law makes the very basic requirement that “[a] vehicle shall
be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall
not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that
such movement can be made with safety.”
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48(1).
No Surprise: More Populous Counties Have More Head-On Collisions
It is no surprise, of course, to see that the more populated counties,
which obviously have more vehicles on the roads, had more deaths from
head-on car crashes. Sixteen counties had 20 or more people killed in
frontal collisions. Fulton County led the pack, with 76 fatalities as
a result of direct frontal car crashes, and DeKalb County and Gwinnett
County tied at 54. Hall County had 42 head-on auto wrecks in which someone
was killed, and Cobb County checked in at 34. Carroll and Jackson Counties
each had 25 front-to-front auto crashes between 2000 and 2006. The study
found a 3-way tie between Cherokee, Paulding and Richmond County, each
of which had 24 deaths in head-on car accidents.
More Surprising: Some Counties With Small Populations Had Extremely High
Rates of Deaths in Frontal Collisions
The report also gave statistics about the rate of head-on fatal car crashes,
and that information was much more surprising. Several counties with relatively
smaller populations nonetheless had higher rates of head-on accident deaths
than the larger counties did. White County, which is in North Georgia,
had the highest rate of head on car accidents in the entire state, far
eclipsing the rates in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett Counties.
Over the next blog entries, I will be talking about what the GDOT Report
found, and about the even bigger question – why would small, rural
counties have higher rates of deadly front-end car accidents?
A note about the GDOT Report
The GDOT report compiled county-by-county data about crashes that occurred
in Georgia between 2000 and 2006. The report, which is part of GDOT’s
“Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information” (CASI) reports,
only looked at fatal crashes, i.e., crashes in which a driver or passenger
was killed as a result of the car collision.