Truck Only Lanes in Atlanta May Pose a Safety Risk
Truck-only lanes on I-75 are being planned to reduce congestion around Atlanta. Although the move may help the city’s gridlock it also raises safety concerns.
Truck-only lanes are being considered for one of the busiest stretches of road in the metro area – Interstate 75 in Henry County. Most of the jams on the interstate are caused by people heading to and from Florida as well as by tractor-trailers hauling goods.
In the summer of 2018, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) announced it is moving forward with plans to create interstate lanes designated solely for commercial vehicles on the busy highway.
GDOT hailed the truck-only lane project as the first of its kind in the United States. The department said it would hire a general engineering consultant by the end of the year to manage the project development and seek public input during the environmental process. Construction is slated to begin in 2025.
A report in Roads & Bridges noted two lanes for commercial vehicles will be added to northbound I-75/475 from Macon to McDonough. The project to the south of Atlanta would cost $1.8 billion.
Approximately 40 miles of non-tolled lanes would have dedicated entrances and exits and be separated from the regular travel lanes by barriers. GDOT estimates the new lanes will reduce delays by about 40 percent on I-75 North by 2030.
Media reports stated GDOT chose the location of the truck-only lanes because of the heavy truck traffic coming from the Port of Savannah to the south and from trucks entering the state delivering products. GDOT expects truck traffic to double by 2040 on the busy I-75 North corridor, as the Port of Savannah continues to expand.
The proposal reflects Atlanta’s serious congestion problems. Metro Atlanta has seven of the 100 worst bottlenecks for freight transportation in the country. The I-75/I-285 interchange is the fourth most congested area in the nation, according to Overdrive.
Rebecca Brewster, president and chief operating officer of the American Transportation Research Institute, said although the proposed lanes won’t be brought in all the way to the notorious interchange, any improvement helps. She said:
“Anything that will improve the truck flow into Atlanta will be an improvement all the way around. This is one of many projects GDOT has on the books to improve congestion and traffic flow in and through Atlanta.”
Georgia is leading the way nationally in getting truck-only lanes into the planning process.
Although separating big rigs and cars has clear safety advantages, truckers may be placed in additional danger using truck-only lanes.
Truck drivers would take part in so-called “truck platooning,” the process when semi-trucks drive right behind one another in a line. The truck leading the platoon navigates and remains in constant communication with the rest of the drivers in the arrangement. It saves time and money and is more environmentally friendly than multiple trucks driving separate from each other.
However, truck platooning can be dangerous. It may not necessarily cause more accidents, but when a crash does occur during a truck platooning arrangement, the consequences can be catastrophic. Truck-only lanes would also likely allow longer combination vehicles to be on the road.
Big rigs in and around Atlanta cause some of the most catastrophic accidents and injuries seen by our Georgia truck accident lawyers. If you have been hurt in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, please call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.