I handle Atlanta car accident cases, and so I wanted to know more about
what the figures are for the traffic in Atlanta. Anyone who has lived
in Atlanta even fleetingly knows that traffic in Atlanta is everywhere,
and it can be grim. Unfortunately, the more traffic that a road sees,
the more accidents that occur on that road.
Most of Atlanta sits in Fulton County, with only a relatively small portion
stretching across the county border into DeKalb County. Given how much
more of Atlanta is in Fulton County, you would expect that Fulton County
would have busier roads that carry a lot more traffic. Thus, it is truly
surprising that – per mile of roadway — Atlanta’s DeKalb
County roads are far, far busier than Atlanta’s Fulton County roads.
On Atlanta’s Fulton County side, 1407 miles of road course through
and around the city. These roads are among the busiest in the state. On
average, they see 14,601,443.79 “daily VMT” – which
stands for “daily vehicle miles traveled” – each day. The
Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) calculates this figure by looking at how many miles were
driven on a road on an average day, when the miles driven by every car
are added together.
The number of vehicle miles on Atlanta’s Fulton County side is extremely
large, and yet – relatively speaking – it is smaller than
the number of vehicle miles on the DeKalb County side. While the roads
in Fulton County see 14,601,443.79 vehicle miles per day, those miles
are distributed across 1407 miles of roadway. The DeKalb side of Atlanta
has only 298.17 miles of roadway, but still manages to rack up 11,993,015.21
daily vehicle miles traveled.
The reason for the difference is that the majority of the roads on the
Fulton County side are smaller city streets, averaging barely over two
lanes apiece. On the DeKalb County side, however, the majority of the
roads are state routes averaging 5.49 lanes across. (“Lane miles”
are calculated by counting the mileage for each lane separately.) Averaging
in all of the types of roads – state routes, county roads and city
streets – that run through Atlanta, the DeKalb County roads average
3.67 lanes across. The roads on the Fulton County side average only 2.54
lanes across. The primary reason for that difference is that on the Fulton
County side, Atlanta has 1214.54 miles of city streets, while on the DeKalb
County side it has only 89.59 miles of city streets. City streets tend
to be local, residential roads, and are generally less trafficked than
county roads, and especially less traveled than state routes. Thus, relatively
speaking, the DeKalb County side of Atlanta has even busier roads than
the Fulton County side.
Of course, any way you slice the data, the Atlanta roads on both sides
of the county line see a tremendous amount of traffic every day, and in
fact more than anywhere else in the state. Still, for anyone who looks
at a map, the fact that so much of Atlanta could be in Fulton County,
and yet so much of the traffic could be in the relatively smaller part
of Atlanta that is in DeKalb County, is quite astonishing.