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As an Atlanta car accident lawyer, I guess I have found one silver lining
in the terrible economy here in Atlanta, Georgia. Sure, we have horrible
unemployment, and for several years we have consistently ranked in the
top ten of the states suffering the most unemployment. The situation has
become so bad that my kids’ schools are collecting canned foods
to give to the families of other students. None of this is good.

And yet – well, here it is: we are having fewer car accidents here
in Atlanta. Fewer car wrecks, fewer injuries and fewer deaths.

According to the
Urban Mobility report, issued annually by the Texas Transportation Institute, we are actually
having less traffic here in Atlanta. Less traffic means fewer wasted hours
for Atlanta drivers. But as a car wreck lawyer, I also see the really
sad side of Atlanta automobile traffic – more car crashes, more
automobile wrecks, and injuries, of all types, including spinal cord injuries
and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and wrongful deaths.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s September 27, 2011, article,
Metro Atlanta’s Traffic Congestion Falls with Economy, the Urban Mobility report’s “co-author, Tim Lomax, said Monday
that the economy was probably the main reason for the decline. When economic
times are bad, people commute less, shop less, are more economical with
their travel and generally make fewer trips.”

Lomax’s theory certainly makes sense. When you have less money to
spend, why drive across town to look at new furniture? If your finances
are looking grim, why slog your way through Atlanta traffic to head out
of town on a holiday weekend?

The AJC speculated that the HERO units that clear accidents, and new technology,
like the Georgia Navigator congestion monitoring system (a system that
warns drivers about congestion, so that they can avoid it), and traffic
lights placed at highway ramps for entering traffic. The AJC did not cite
any sources for the concept that these newly-implemented systems are slicing
congestion and traffic.

Since congestion is down nationwide, not just in Atlanta, I tend to believe
that the largest effect is coming from the economy, as Lomax theorizes.
On-ramp lights, the HERO system and congestion monitoring systems have
not been implemented everywhere – but the economy has sure been
rotten everywhere.

Even with the decrease, Atlanta has really bad traffic. In 2005, as a nationwide
average, drivers wasted 39 hours a year sitting in traffic. By 2009, the
number had dropped to a “mere” 35 wasted, dull hours trapped
in congestion. Atlanta drivers, on the other hand, spent 58 hours trapped
in traffic in 2005, and even in 2009, they spent a pointless 43 hours
per year just sitting, sitting, sitting in endless lines of traffic.

The cost of all those wasted hours is very high. According to the Urban
Mobility Report, traffic is costing Atlanta $2.5 billion a year.

It could be worse. Atlanta was “only” ranked 13th in the nation
for traffic. Back in 2005, we were the 5th worst city for traffic.

And after all, we could be in Washington, D.C. According to the Report,
drivers there wasted 74 hours a year sitting in traffic.

So let’s hear it for silver linings!