Georgia traffic fatalities still rising during pandemic

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s journalists follow the facts, because you deserve to know what’s really going on.

The coronavirus pandemic has been good and bad for metro Atlanta traffic. Last year, when schools and businesses closed, fewer people were on the road. That made commuting faster and easier for many motorists.

But it also increased speeds on highways in Georgia and across the nation. And with higher speeds came deadlier crashes and more traffic fatalities.

New statistics from the Georgia Department of Transportation show that problem is getting worse.

Article continues below

Through Sept. 8, 1,165 people had died in traffic accidents on Georgia highways, GDOT told the State Transportation Board Thursday. That’s up more than 8% from the same period last year. Pedestrian fatalities were up nearly 17%.

Sixteen people – including four teenagers – died over Labor Day weekend alone.

Sam Harris, GDOT’s state safety engineer, attributed the rising fatalities to three things: distracted driving, speeding and driving under the influence.

Other states also are seeing increased fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released preliminary statistics showing that 8,730 people died nationwide in traffic accidents in the first three months of this year. That’s up 10.5% from the same period last year.

This is not just a Georgia problem,” Harris told the state board.

About the Author