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I am a
personal injury lawyer representing car crash victims throughout Georgia, and I have been writing
about the surprising statistics from the 2008 Georgia Department of Transportation
(“DOT”) report,
“Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information”. Today we will be looking at what the report says about car crashes in
rural counties in Georgia.

The report addressed roadway accidents in the five Atlanta Metropolitan
counties (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett), the Atlanta Suburban
counties, and the other metropolitan regions in Georgia. It defines rural
counties as “all other counties”, which in Georgia is a whopping
117 counties. According to the report, the population in these counties
grew by 7.57% over the five years between the two surveys.

According to the report, in 2000, 79,012 people had
car accidents on rural Georgia roads, at a rate of 204.1 accidents per million vehicle miles driven on rural
roads in Georgia. The number of car wrecks increased to 82,670 in 2006,
a 4.63% increase. But in 2006, the rate of accidents per million vehicle
miles had actually decreased to 201.0, an overall 1.52% decrease.

The number of personal injuries from car crashes on rural Georgia roads
actually decreased, albeit only slightly, from 39,782 to 39,670, a decrease
of .28%. The rate of injuries in car wrecks per million miles decreased
by a significantly greater percentage. In 2000, there were 102.8 injuries
per million miles driven on rural roads, and by 2006 that number had dropped
to 96.4 injuries in car accidents. Overall, the rate of injuries in car
accidents had dropped by a significant 6.14%.

The statistics about deaths on rural Georgia roads may surprise you, however.
Georgia rural roads saw 701 deaths in car accidents 2000, and the number
of fatalities increased to 757 by 2006. While 1.81 people died in car
wrecks per million miles driven in 2000, 1.84 died per million miles driven
in 2006. Thus, the number of deaths on Georgia roads increased by 7.99%
from 2000 to 2006, and the rate of deaths per million vehicle miles went up 1.64%.

So while you are more likely to wreck in Atlanta, you are more likely to
die in a wreck in rural Georgia. Given Atlanta’s traffic, it is
easiest to understand why more people wreck? But why do more people die
on Georgia’s rural roads?

According to DOT, the chief reason is the speed. While the posted speed
limits may be the same, metro Atlanta traffic moves far more slowly than
rural traffic because the clogged roads and traffic congestion slow everyone
down. The traffic reporters in Atlanta jokingly talk about some of Atlanta’s
major highways being “parking lots” during rush hour. The
traffic explains why it is possible to have a fender bender on I-75, a
road with a 55mph speed limit, at say, 5:30 in the afternoon on a workday.

DOT also notes another difference: in rural areas in Georgia, most roads
have only two lanes, one in each direction. According to DOT, “Two-way
roads are often narrow roads with no physical barrier or division separating
oncoming traffic, sharp curves, limited visibility, little or no shoulder,
and with frequent entering and exiting traffic.” Report at 9.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.