Gridlock Guy: Observations about metro Atlanta traffic

Gridlock updatesMark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.

Throughout the year I jot down observations about Atlanta traffic in a little notebook that I keep in the WSB Traffic Center. A few times a year in this column I open up the notebook and pass along relevant stories or observations that I have written down. Here are four pertinent nuggets that I wanted to share.

Seat belts

I received a ton of feedback on my column last week about my suggestion that seat belts should be mandatory for all vehicle passengers in both front and back seats in Georgia. Despite the facts I presented on the huge increase in death and injury for those that don't wear their seat belts, many readers felt that it "wasn't the government's place to tell me what to do."

Fine, except when you look at the cost to taxpayers caused by people who don’t wear their belts. When those people who choose not to wear seat belts are involved in a crash, they are more likely to be severely injured or killed. When you have crashes with serious injuries or deaths, it takes more police, fire and rescue units to respond, putting our first responders under more pressure. These crashes cause more lanes to be blocked causing more lost time on the roads for commuters. And, of course, these types of crashes do nothing good for our insurance rates.

If you don’t want to wear your seat belt on private property, be my guest. But on public roadways, seat belts should be mandatory.

Follow @AJCWSBTraffic on Twitter to get  traffic updates on the go

HOT Lanes

It was announced that the expansion of the Interstate 85 HOT Express Lanes will begin in August. The project is anticipated to take two years to complete and will extend the existing HOT lanes from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road in northern Gwinnett County.

The current HOT lanes certainly have their critics, but have to be considered a success as more and more people are choosing to use the pay-for-play lanes every month. The expansion should help traffic flow in the very busy stretch of interstate through Buford and Suwanee.

Airport security

One of my responsibilities every morning is to monitor the wait times through security at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Wait times have steadily increased this year and are set to get even worse in the next few weeks as the South Domestic Checkpoint is now closed for renovation.

On Friday morning wait times through the Main Domestic Checkpoint rose to north of an hour. Please plan accordingly if you are traveling in May.

License plate machines

The hassle of renewing your tag just got a little easier. A handful of Kroger supermarkets now offer kiosks that look like ATM machines where Georgia residents can renew their vehicles.

“It does financial transactions, so it uses the same technology as your ATM,” said Von Swalley, with Intellectual Technology, which developed the machines.

Simply scan the bar code on the back of your Georgia Driver’s License and the machine will show what vehicles can be renewed. After payment, it prints out your new registration sticker to place on your license plate.

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