As you probably know if you live in the Atlanta metro area, our city has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. In fact, in 2018, transportation analytics company INRIX ranked Atlanta the fourth-worst city in the United States for traffic congestion. Residents of the Atlanta metropolitan area experience long, frustrating commutes, losing nearly 108 hours each year to traffic congestion.
Although traffic congestion may mean slower driving speeds, heavy traffic nonetheless may lead to more car accidents and injuries. This article will address some of the common causes of traffic-related accidents, as well as tips for reducing your risk of an accident. If you are injured in a car accident in Atlanta, it is important to contact a Woodstock car accident attorney who can evaluate your case and help you recover your medical expenses and other costs.
Common Causes of Traffic-Related Accidents in Atlanta
Frustration caused by heavy stop-and-go traffic often leads Atlanta drivers to make costly mistakes, including:
- Aggressive driving – Drivers stuck in traffic are more likely to become impatient and angry, particularly if they are running late. A study by AAA suggests as many as 80 percent of all drivers have experienced anger or aggression on the road. Unfortunately, impatience and anger can translate to dangerous driving behaviors such as purposely tailgating or cutting off other cars, failing to yield, running red lights, and weaving in and out of lanes. Drivers experiencing road rage may also express their anger by honking excessively, yelling or making gestures, or threatening harm to other drivers. Road rage and impatient driving can be fatal on busy highways like those around Atlanta and can even lead to altercations with other drivers.
- Distracted driving – Many people stopped in traffic see the delay as an opportunity to check their phones and send texts or emails. Regardless of the speed you’re traveling, however, these distractions can still lead to an accident. Particularly in stop-and-go traffic, it is important to keep your eyes on the road to make sure you can react quickly to sudden stops, cars switching lanes, merging traffic or other distracted drivers on the road.
- Violating traffic rules – Many drivers try to compensate for heavy traffic by cutting corners, hoping to shave a few minutes off a long commute. Common behaviors in traffic may include running red lights or stop signs, blocking intersections at a four-way stop, or driving on the shoulder to try to pass a long line of traffic. These behaviors not only increase the risk of an accident but they also actually tend to exacerbate gridlock, making the traffic conditions even worse for everyone on the road.
Five Tips for Reducing Your Chance of a Traffic-Related Accident
No matter how bad traffic may be, an accident is always worse. Follow these tips to help keep you, your family and other drivers safe on the road:
- Plan Ahead. With proper planning, you may be able to avoid heavy traffic altogether. If you need to be on the road, make sure you leave enough time to account for variables such as weather, construction, events such as festivals or game days, and time of day, including morning and evening rush hours. It is also a good idea to plan alternate routes and/or drive with GPS assistance so that you can adjust your route if needed.
- Remove Distractions. Always stay focused on the road. Avoid eating, drinking, texting, talking on the phone, tending to children or changing the radio station while your car is in motion. If you must do any of these activities, pull to the side of the road or exit the highway and find an appropriate place to park.
- Drive Predictably and Proactively. Accidents happen when drivers behave erratically. When there are lots of other drivers around, it is important to give them adequate warning of your movements. Do not weave in and out of lanes to try to get a few car lengths ahead. Use your indicators when you plan to switch lanes, merge or exit the highway. At the same time, you should also assume that the drivers around you may not always behave predictably. Pay attention to the drivers around you, and always expect the unexpected.
- Stay Cool. Try to avoid losing patience. Keep yourself calm in traffic by listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook you like, or by taking deep breaths when you start to feel tense. If you think you may be late for an appointment, call ahead to let your appointment know you are running late. Remember: everyone else on the road is likely just as stressed as you are. Getting angry will not help you get to your destination faster, and it could lead to an accident.
- Take a Break if Necessary. If you feel yourself becoming anxious or angry, take a break. Pull off at an exit. Taking one or two minutes to stretch your legs is often enough to make the rest of your commute go smoothly.
How is the State of Georgia Addressing Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Recognizing the dangers of heavy traffic conditions, the State of Georgia has recently implemented initiatives to reduce some of the common causes of car accidents, including:
- Hands-Free Law: As of July 1, 2018, drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while talking on the phone and driving. Drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media content or other internet data while on the road, even using hands-free technology. The law also prohibits drivers from watching videos, recording videos, and listening to streaming music unless it can be controlled by and listened through the vehicle’s radio. Violation of this law may result in fines and points against the driver’s license.
- Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) Program: The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and local law enforcement agencies initiated this task force to combat aggressive drivers. The program is implemented by a team of 24 dedicated law enforcement officers who are tasked with educating the public and enforcing laws related to impaired and aggressive driving.
Involved in a Traffic-Related Accident? Contact a Woodstock Car Accident Lawyer
If you are involved in a traffic-related accident, it is important to discuss your rights with a Woodstock car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help you file an insurance claim and seek compensation for your injuries. Contact Hait & Kuhn at 678-888-0198 or submit a contact form online to review your case. Initial consultations are always free.