We are on part 3 of a series about the Georgia Department of Transportation’s
(DOT) January 2008 report on car wrecks in Georgia, which is entitled
Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information.
I am a
Georgia car accident lawyer and handle cases throughout our state, and today I am going to focus on
what the report tells us about car accidents in the suburban Atlanta counties.
DOT designated Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette,
Forsyth, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Pickens, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton
Counties as “suburban Atlanta counties.”
These counties experienced extraordinary growth between 2000 and 2006,
more growth than in any other part of Georgia. According to the report,
these 15 suburban Atlanta counties grew a whopping 31.5 % in those seven
years. With that kind of growth, you would expect more car wrecks, and
DOT says that is exactly what we got.
In 2000, the suburban counties had 41,005 car wrecks, or 274.9 car accidents
per million miles driven. By 2006, there were 51,766 car accidents, or
284.9 per million miles driven. The number of wrecks had increased by
a whopping 26.24%, and although the rate of wrecks per million miles had
changed by far less — 3.65%.
The number of personal injuries in Georgia car wrecks in the suburban metro
counties also had increased dramatically. In 2000, 18,115 people had been
injured in car accidents, at a rate of 121.5 per million miles driven.
In 2006, however, 21,314 people were injured on the roads in Atlanta suburban
counties. Interestingly, the rate of injuries had decreased to 117.3 per
million vehicle miles driven. Overall, while the number of injuries in
car wrecks had increased by 17.66%, the rate of injuries in accidents
per million vehicle miles had actually decreased by 3.40%.
In 2000, 235 lives were lost on the roads in the Atlanta Suburban counties,
or 1.58 per million vehicle miles driven on those roads. By 2006, more
people were dying on roads in the Atlanta suburban counties — a
catastrophic 267, but at a proportionally lower rate of 1.47 per million
vehicle miles. While the number of deaths had increased by 13.62%, the
rate of deaths per million vehicle miles had actually decreased by 6.72%.
These statistics strikingly bear out the Georgia DOT’s conclusion
that: “Congestion and high numbers of vehicles and drivers combine
to increase the risk of crashes and at the same time can reduce the severity
of a crash due to lower speeds and other factors associated with fatal
crashes.” Thus, as the suburban counties grew in population, their
roads became more congested with traffic. As a result of all of the traffic
congestion, the Atlanta suburban county roads saw an increase in the number
of wrecks, but a decrease in both the rate of injuries and the rate of
deaths per million vehicle miles.
In the next DOT report, I would like to see some statistics about the average
speed in these areas, so that we can tell more about whether the people
in these counties really are being forced to drive more slowly, and whether
that is contributing to the decrease in injuries and deaths in Georgia
car accidents (in terms of rate, not raw numbers).