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Traffic in Atlanta Ranks Third Worst in Country

As we discussed earlier on this blog, Atlanta’s drivers are not only some of the rudest, but also some of the worst motorists in the country.Apparently, there’s more glowing praise for us. A survey ranks the city at No. 3 on a list of the most traffic congested cities in the nation.

While the number of vehicles on our roads over the past year has dropped somewhat because of rising gas prices and the recession, and this has contributed to a drop in accident rates, Atlanta’s traffic continues to be congested. Our city ranks behind Los Angeles and Washington DC, and ahead of Houston and San Francisco in the study. According to the results, the average motorist in Atlanta spends about 57 hours in the year simply stuck in traffic.

There seems to have been a slight improvement over the last couple of years however, and that’s probably due to the rise in gas prices. In 2007 which is the year the study considered, gas prices were $3 a gallon in Atlanta, which could account for the slight drop in congestion rates. However, we don’t yet have figures for 2008, which is when gas prices touched $4 a gallon, further cutting down non-essential travel in metro Atlanta.

In 2008, traffic volumes dropped dramatically as the recession and high gas prices impacted people’s willingness to use their gas guzzling SUV’s. More people took to public transport, walking or bicycling. Most importantly for safety advocates and Atlanta car accident lawyers, those drops in traffic volumes meant a corresponding drop in the number of accidents on our streets.

When the 2008 figures come out however, we will probably see a larger drop in the rates of congestion.Generally, Atlantans have been fond of their cars. That’s why it was surprising to many to see the mass increase in Marta ridership when the recession first began to pinch.

There are already signs that as gas prices begin to ease up, as they have been doing over the past few months, Atlantans will go back to their normal rates of vehicle usage. Preliminary results for May 2009 show that car usage rates are already showing a slight increase over figures for May 2008. Correspondingly, Marta ridership for January through March 2009 has also shown a slight dip. That could either be a sign of people returning to their cars, or fewer people going to work as a result of the recession.