Over 200 trucks have rolled over on Atlanta’s snaky, outdated highways since 2001, making it the most dangerous place for truck drivers in the country. Rollovers are responsible for over half of all truck driver deaths, killing 300 drivers and their occupants every year.
Aging Highways Meet Increased Heavy Trucking Traffic
The trucking industry is booming, but the nation’s antiquated highway system built in the 1950’s is ill prepared to handle the excess traffic. This is a nationwide problem, but it is especially evident in Atlanta, where many exit ramps that require rapid deceleration lack the necessary signage to warn truck drivers of the rollover risk. Given that a rollover increases a truck driver’s risk of death when he is in a crash by 30 times, better signage could save lives.
But the rollover problem goes deeper than signage. The aging Atlanta highways were never built with today’s traffic congestion and truck tonnage in mind. I-285 is often cited as one of the most nerve-wracking for truckers. Heavy highway traffic has taken a major toll on the road. Potholes have decimated the highway and many drivers report that the white lines on the highway are extremely faded, making driving more difficult and dangerous for everyone.
The Nation’s Deadliest Ramp
Just south of Atlanta, two lanes feed into the westbound ramp from I-285 off I-75 where over 3 dozen rollovers have happened since 2001, making it the nation’s most dangerous ramp for truckers. Truck drivers are forced to drop their speeds to under 20 m.p.h. to avoid rolling over on the ramp. The only signage warning of the danger is a small yellow sign that drivers in the left-hand lane likely won’t see in time.
Given that 200 people have died in Georgia as a result of rollovers since 2001, action needs to be taken to prevent more loss of life. Politicians are working to raise taxes to pay for highway upgrades that would help protect truck drivers, but industry experts say that the upgrades would cost billions of dollars. In the meantime, the NHTSA has asked the White House to mandate electronic stability control equipment for heavy trucks, but they are held up by industry opposition. The Georgia Department of Transportation says that it is aware of potholes and faded white lines on I-285 and is making ongoing efforts to fix the problems.