We are in the middle of a series about car wrecks in Georgia. I am a car accident lawyer in Georgia, and so I read with great interest a report released by the Georgia Department of Transportation (“DOT”) in 2008. DOT’s report, entitled Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information, looks at statistics and trends related to car and truck accidents on Georgia roadways.
In its report, the Georgia DOT found some marked – and perhaps surprising — differences between the Atlanta Metro area, which it considered to be Clayton, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties, and the rest of the state.
The Georgia DOT said: “Even though more crashes occur in the five Atlanta metropolitan counties more people die in rural counties.” Georgia DOT Report on car accidents at 7. Atlanta has double the number of car wrecks, but the number of people killed on rural roads is double the number killed in the metro Atlanta area.
When it came to car and truck accidents, it was not surprising that Atlanta, with all its traffic, took the “prize.” Atlanta had 151,193 crashes in 2006. By contrast, there were only 82,670 in rural Georgia.
By stark contrast, though, the Atlanta counties had 398 deaths – whereas Georgia’s rural counties had 757 deaths. The result is shocking, really. What that means is that twice as many people die in automobile wrecks in rural Georgia as die in automobile crashes in metro Atlanta. But if you are in an auto wreck in rural Georgia, you are twice as likely to die as you are in a car accident in metro Atlanta. Georgia DOT Report on car accidents at 7.
The Georgia DOT also stated it in rates of deaths per millions of miles driven on the roads. In Clayton, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinett counties, 1.14 people die per million vehicle miles on the roads. But in rural Georgia, 1.84 people die per million vehicle miles.
The Georgia DOT primarily attributed the difference to speeds. “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.” Georgia DOT Report on car accidents at 8. But the Georgia DOT also explained that: “Two-way roads without a physical barrier or separation predominate in rural areas. These roads have the highest fatal crash risk.”
The numbers did not hold true for personal injuries in Georgia car accidents. 49,939 people were injured in car wrecks in metro Atlanta, whereas 39,670 were injured in car accidents on rural Georgia roads. Expressed as a rate, 143.0 people were injured per million vehicle miles in Atlanta, whereas only 96.4 people were injured in the same number of vehicle miles in rural Georgia. The Georgia DOT report does not differentiate between serious injuries and minor injuries – perhaps because that is an extremely hard call to make. So we do not have any information about whether the Atlanta injuries were more or less serious than the ones on rural Georgia roads.
Georgia DOT also explained that the two-lane roads pose a danger for emergency vehicles traveling at high speeds to reach the accident victims. Furthermore, many rural areas lack trauma centers, which may increase the risk of death for car accident victims.