People usually associate lighter traffic with fewer wrecks, if for no other reason than that there aren’t as many vehicles on the road. But Doug Turnbull, Skycopter anchor for WSB’s Triple Team Traffic and Atlanta’s Gridlock Guy, says the opposite is true. In spite of less vehicle miles traveled (VMT) overall, U.S. traffic fatalities have only decreased 3% so far over 2019.

And while the effect of telecommuting and shutdowns initially led to lighter traffic in Atlanta, there has been a gradual uptick in traffic volume. Although morning commutes are still light, evening commutes are beginning to look more normal. Overall traffic volumes are going up, but the times of day and reasons people are out on the road, as well as their driving habits, have changed.

Speed cited as main culprit in Metro Atlanta wrecks

This is where the increase in the severity of accidents and fatality rates is shifting. INRIX and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) found that the number of fatalities per 100 million VMT was up 31% in the first half of 2020 over the same period last year.

Speed appears to be the main culprit for the severity of wrecks in Atlanta this year. Drivers’ speeds were 31% higher from April to July, and 21% faster from August to October, than the same periods in 2019. INRIX also measured an uptick in the number of secondary crashes, with freight trucks more likely to crash in traffic jams due to longer required brake time.

Impaired or distracted driving, road construction or confusing road design are also factoring into the frequency and severity of wrecks in Atlanta this year. The number of crashes is growing faster than VMT in the third quarter as well.

Atlanta’s riskiest hot spots

A look at hot spots where drivers are most at risk for collisions is predictably at the Downtown Connector, the interchange of I-20 with I-75/85. The riskiest roads, with a rating out of five, are:

  • I-285, at 3.7
  • I-85, at 3.5
  • I-75, with the most collisions spread out over 50 miles

With Georgia traffic accidents on the rise, it is important to know where to go if you or a loved one are injured in a wreck because of a negligent or reckless driver. Having dedicated and aggressive legal counsel can help you to get the maximum financial compensation for your injuries.