Several years back I noticed that a number of the most serious Atlanta
car wreck lawsuits I was seeing — suits that involved wrecks that
resulted in severe personal injuries or wrongful death — came from
the DeKalb County side of Atlanta. The number of DeKalb County auto wrecks
was not half of what I was seeing, but it was certainly higher than I
had expected it to be. The Fulton County side of Atlanta is so much bigger,
I puzzled. Why were so many cases coming from DeKalb County?
It turns out that the reason for the large number of serious injury and
death car wrecks in DeKalb County is that the roads that run through the
part of Atlanta that is in DeKalb County tend to be enormous, multi-lane
highways. The city of Atlanta is large enough that it crosses from Fulton
County – where most of the city lies – into DeKalb County.
While a smaller portion of Atlanta is on the DeKalb County side, according to a
Georgia DOT report, the two sides have nearly the same mileage in state routes. For obvious
reasons, the multi-lane highways see an enormous amount of the traffic
that courses through and around the city of Atlanta and the metro Atlanta
area. More cars, of course, mean more car accidents; more car accidents
in turn mean more serious injuries and deaths from those accidents.
The sheer volume of roadway on the Fulton County side eclipses the volume
in DeKalb County. While a total of 1407 miles of city, county and state
roads are in Atlanta/Fulton County, a relatively small 298.17 miles of
roadway run through DeKalb County.
But the two counties have nearly the same total state route mileage. In
total, the DeKalb County portion of Atlanta has 137.46 miles of state
routes, which is nearly as many as the Fulton County side, which has 142.94
miles. These large, state routes account for a significant percentage
of the serious personal injuries and deaths that occur in car accidents
here in Atlanta and the Atlanta Metro Area.
Surprisingly, Atlanta actually has more county road mileage on its DeKalb
County side than it does on his huge Fulton County side. DeKalb County
has 71.12 miles of roads built and maintained by DeKalb County. As a very
broad-brush generalization, county roads tend to be slightly wider and
busier than city roads. (While the statistics clearly show that state
roads on average tend to be much wider than county and city roads, the
difference between the widths of county and city roads is often very small.
In a few instances in a few counties, the city roads are actually slightly
wider than the county roads.)
While Fulton County has many miles of big, multi-lane highways, it also
has a high percentage of more local, sometimes even residential, roads.
Fulton County rockets ahead when it comes to the miles of city roads within
Atlanta. The number of Atlanta city roads in Fulton County eclipses the
number in DeKalb County: to DeKalb’s 89.59 miles of city streets,
Atlanta’s Fulton County side has 1214.54 miles of city streets.
As it turns out then, the reason that DeKalb has a very high number of
serious auto wrecks resulting in injuries or deaths is because DeKalb
has a higher percentage of highway state routes, and thus a surprisingly
high amount of traffic.