Like It or Not: Georgia's Roads

We hear plenty of reasons why we should be afraid these days: crime, terrorism, zombies.
 
But most of us, we don’t even think twice about one of the most dangerous things that we do almost every single day, especially if you live in metro Atlanta—driving a car!
 
Did you know that our very own I-285 has been called the deadliest interstate highway in the whole country? That’s nothing to brag about.
 
And the problem isn’t just on I-285. The death toll on Georgia's roads and highways has gotten worse.
 
Just last year, Georgia had a 22 percent increase in traffic fatalities. That was one of the biggest jumps in the whole country.
 
In 2015, more than 1,400 people died in auto accidents all across Georgia. And more than 110,000 people were injured in auto accidents. In the final months of 2016, the number of fatal accidents is already on pace to beat last year’s grim record.
 
To their credit, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Georgia Department of Transportation have launched a campaign called “Drive Alert, Arrive Alive.” The goal is to address Georgia’s startling increase in traffic fatalities. Motorists are being reminded to buckle their seatbelts, to not text and talk on the phone, and to stay in their lanes.
 
Now, these safety tips can save lives, and all of us should be following them to the letter. That means you, crazy lady who just cut me off.
 
But the truth is that there’s even more that we can and should be doing to help reduce the number of people who die or get injured on our roadways.
 
After years of denial and neglect, the State of Georgia needs to make a serious and ongoing investment in public transportation.
 
Georgia is one of the only states in the whole country that provides no permanent funding whatsoever (that’s a big, fat goose egg!) to support local transit systems, such as MARTA. That’s nothing for us to be proud of either.
 
The lack of state transit funding means fewer people have access to affordable, convenient, and, most of all, safe transportation as an alternative to driving.
 
A study just published by the American Public Transportation Association found that cities with lower rates of auto fatalities tend to have higher rates of transit ridership—by as much as 21 percent.
 
That’s important, because most of the traffic fatalities happen in urban areas, such as metro Atlanta, with more people, more cars and more accidents.
 
Metro Atlanta, we all know, is growing. That means we have large numbers of young people, and older residents, who don’t, can’t or shouldn’t even be behind the wheel of a car. So if you don’t ride transit, it can keep you safer too.
 
I know, I know. Some people believe that riding transit is “dangerous.” But those people are just wrong.
 
Bad things can happen anywhere, of course. But they very rarely happen when you’re on a bus or a train. Transit is just one of the safest ways to travel. You can Google it.
 
Yeah, many Georgians just LOVE their cars and won’t ever, ever give them up. But to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe, just building more roads and highways is a dead end. We need more transit.
 
On election day, voters in the City of Atlanta approved a 2.5 billion dollar sales tax referendum that will help them expand transit options across the city. Let the governor and our state lawmakers know that now is the time to double down on that investment.
 
 
What do you think? Join the conversation on Facebook! You can also view more Like It or Not editorials on YouTube.

 

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