My name is Lee Wallace and I am a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.
I have written several blog entries about the fact that car accidents
in the metro Atlanta area have increased, but surprisingly, the death
rate from auto wrecks has decreased.
Today I want to spend a little more time looking at the
2011 Urban Mobility Report, which aggregates Atlanta, Georgia, traffic trends from 1892 through 2010.
These statistics help us understand why Atlanta car accidents have mushroomed.
According to the Georgia DOT, when we have clogged, congested streets the
number of car wrecks increases – but because traffic has to slow
down due to all the congestion, the number of fatal wrecks actually goes
down. (I am speaking of proportional numbers – the sheer death rate
is higher, but percentage-wise, the number of fatalities per 1000 car
wrecks has dropped.)
According to the Urban Mobility Report spreadsheet for Atlanta, back in
1982 Atlantans were traveling 14,270,000 vehicle miles on the Atlanta
freeways each day. Flashing forward to 2010, people drove 46,779,000 vehicle
miles each day on Atlanta’s freeways.
Atlanta’s arterial streets saw the same overwhelming increase in
traffic. In 1982, people drove 16,500,000 each day on arterial streets
in Atlanta. By 2010, people were covering
43,220,000 miles daily on the arterial streets.
That enormous increase in traffic in Atlanta could have been manageable
– if the amount of road (the study calls it “lane miles”)
had increased commensurately. The number of lane miles did increase, but
nowhere in the vicinity of as quickly as the population did, or as the
number of miles driven on the roads did. In 1982, Atlanta had 1400 lane
miles, and by 2010, it had 2545 lane miles.
So, while the number of lane miles did increase by 180%, the number of
daily vehicle miles being driven increased far more — by 260%. The
number of daily vehicle miles increased by even more than the population,
which increased by 200% over the same period of time.
As a car accident lawyer in metro Atlanta, I see first-hand what a toll
these additional accidents take on my clients. We are fortunate that fewer
fatalities are occurring per 1000 car wrecks, but the raw number of fatalities
has actually increased. Of course car accident deaths take an immeasurable
toll on family and friends, and in some cases the decedent’s medical
bills, which are borne by either society or the family, can be staggering as well.
As when deaths occur in auto crashes in the Atlanta metro area, when injuries
occur in car wrecks, the toll is spread around. The person who was injured
suffers pain, loses wages because of missing time from work, spends time
rehabilitating to gain back the abilities that were lost due to the injuries,
and incurs what often are very significant medical bills. Meanwhile, after
the auto accident, the family of the injured person sits at the hospital,
tries to help with the rehabilitation, and tries to make do with far less
income due to the lost wages and the medical bills that have to be paid,
all while grieving for the dad, mom, husband, wife, or child.