The state also nabbed 4,347 speeders. “There’s a misconception that if there’s less traffic on the roadway, then you can drive faster and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is if you’re involved in a crash and you’re traveling at a high rate of speed, the risk of being involved in a serious injury or fatal crash increases,” Riley explained.
GSP has issued thousands of more citations for speeders 24 or more miles per hour above the speed limit than in 2019, thanks in part to the perceived freedom drivers feel on emptier roads. That’s a staggering figure alone and one which doesn’t include super speeders that local law enforcement catch.
Riley said that simply going to fast in unfavorable conditions is dangerous. This doesn’t just apply to driving over the speed limit. Even high traffic volume is an unfavorable condition for those driving right at or below the posted speed. If drivers come hurtling toward an unexpected backup, they have less time to react and can produce dangerous results. Fog and rain, of which drivers saw a large amount at the beginning of the travel period on Christmas Eve, obviously are also unfavorable. So are the shifty, slow, constricted work zones that dot Atlanta’s roads, Riley added.
Other driver errors persist at any speed. “You have people following too closely, not leaving enough room for people to slow down and leave enough room to react,” Riley said.
And then there is the problem of distracted driving, for which GSP issued 344 citations around Christmas. “We also see it as a major contributing factor in a lot of wrecks. Texting while driving or being distracted, in general. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your phone,” Riley explained. Errant animals, dropped items, dashboard screen-fumbling, and animated conversation are all distractions. But texting is what really takes eyes off the road and hands off the wheel the longest. Jim Morrison knew this 50 years ago and getting in a “texting wreck” could certainly give someone the “Roadhouse Blues.”
Riley echoed what many of us on the WSB Traffic Team wish for Georgia driving in 2021. You probably want the same thing - more patience and consideration. This means making more plans for getting home safely after having a few drinks. This means using turn signals and checking blind spots. This means not shutting down roads to dangerously drag race. This means avoiding the addictive pull of the phone notification.
We can’t completely control our fates, but we can control how risky we behave. Swiping a filter of caution and unselfishness over every driving move could generate some 2021 success, as traffic volume will remain lower into the New Year. Consider driving with more pause to be the commuting equivalent of wearing a mask. Georgia traffic deaths had trended down the last two years after the July 2018 Hands-Free Georgia Act. Let’s work together to make 2020 just an aberration.
Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also hosts a traffic podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.