Gridlock Guy: Tips for drivers new to Atlanta traffic

The population of metro Atlanta is booming as more and more people move to our vibrant city and suburbs. These new residents come from all over the country and all over the world. Unfortunately, driving in Atlanta can be very different from driving in these new residents’ former cities. I have come up with this quick reference guide for drivers new to the Atlanta area. Things that long time residents already know, but newbies might not.

Don’t get on Interstate 285 when it is raining.

The “perimeter highway” can be rough when the pavement is dry, but when it rains it becomes an adult version of a slip ‘n slide. Most drivers on I-285 don’t reduce their speed when it is raining and the result is never good. When roads are wet, avoid I-285 like the plague.

Don’t travel on I-75 in Clayton and Henry Counties during the weekend, especially during a holiday weekend.

Blame the consistent jams on folks from out of town heading to and from Florida. For whatever reason (not always construction related) you will see delays throughout the weekend between Stockbridge and McDonough. During holiday weekends the delays get exponentially worse.

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Most likely the car in front of you will NOT use their blinkers.

Whether you call them turn signals, directionals or blinkers, a very large segment of the population refuses to use them when making a turn. Get used to it, it will happen to you every day.

Watch out for out-of-state drivers.

Drivers in cars with out-of-state license plates and especially out-of-country plates (I’m looking at you Canada!) do not understand that the left lane of the interstate is for fast drivers only and slower traffic must move right! Nothing will make your blood boil faster than getting stuck behind a slow-poke in the fast lane. In my experience, more often than not its an out-of-towner going below the speed limit in that lane refusing to, or just not even realizing that they should move to the right to let you pass.

The morning rush hour starts at 4 a.m. and usually doesn’t end until at least 10 a.m.

Overnight construction usually lasts until 5 a.m. just as a high percentage of Atlanta commuters start to hit the freeways. As a result you could very likely get stuck in a bumper-to-bumper jam before the sun rises. The 10 a.m. rush hour end time might be a bit generous as some days the morning drive lasts until the lunch hour.

Federal holidays are awesome.

When federal workers have the day off traffic is so much better. Take that percentage of drivers off of the roads and you’ll see a great improvement to your commute.

Summer traffic is no picnic.

If you think that summer traffic is bad, wait until school starts back up. Traffic is no fun now but just wait until after Labor Day if want to really see how bad things can get.

MARTA is a smart alternative.

MARTA trains are great if you live near a station and a train goes where you want to go. The trains are amazing to get you to the airport or Philips Arena or the soon to be ready new Falcons stadium. If you are able to, and it makes sense for you, I urge you to take MARTA trains. They can be a huge time and aggravation saver.

Avoid driving behind buses.

MARTA buses are not allowed to travel more than 20 MPH and there will always be one in front of you when you are in a hurry. The buses might be great if you are riding in the them, but if you are driving behind them expect your blood pressure to rise. They. Are. So. Slow.

Big metal plates — ‘nuf said.

We don’t fix potholes, we just place metal plates over them. Well, that’s not entirely true. We will eventually fix them, but not after a couple of band-aid attempts just to cover them up. This place loves big metal plates. ​

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