Did you know I-285 is one of the most dangerous highways in the nation?
Just before the COVID-19-related shutdowns hit Atlanta in mid-March, a group of drift racers blocked a tunnel on I-285 near the airport. After stopping traffic, people took turns performing donuts and burnouts, careening through the tight passage. Fireworks clouded the road with smoke.
Thankfully, no one was reported hurt—something that made this “Fast and Furious”-type scene a bit different from most I-285 news stories. The highway, also known as the Perimeter or the Atlanta Bypass, has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the deadliest in the country.
However, that might seem obvious to anyone who has driven on the nearly 75-mile loop. Parts of the highway are 12 lanes wide. It has interchanges with I-20, I-75, I-85, US 78 and, of course, Ga. 400—where improvements have been under construction since 2017 and are not expected to be completed until 2021. But what else makes the road so dangerous?
Deadliest Highways Ranked
A few years back, a reporter for Vox studied data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, connecting each reported fatal crash to the road it occurred on. I-285 didn’t top the list in terms of most fatal crashes, but, when the reporter looked at fatal crashes per 10 miles, the Perimeter moved to the top of the list. In 2013, the year studied, there were 3.5 fatal crashes per 10 miles (for a total of 26 fatal accidents and 29 fatalities).
But why? I-285 seems to have the exact wrong combination of elements to make it particularly dangerous:
- Commuters. The city’s overflowing in-town roads and limited public transit system mean plenty of folks have to drive on the highway daily to get where they’re going. Plus, the highway is surrounded by busy suburbs on all sides, like Smyrna, Forest Park, Tucker, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody.
- Out-of-towners. It is the Atlanta bypass, after all. Many drivers are trying to skate around the city and may not be ready for the road’s issues (and above-mentioned construction complications). Add to that its proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson, the busiest passenger airport in the world.
- Truckers. Like vacationers or people headed to the airport, big rig drivers are trying to get around the city, not drive through it. The large number of trucks makes it more dangerous for everyone.
How to Stay Safe When Driving
For most Atlantans, I-285 is eventually unavoidable, even if you do your best to steer clear of the often-gridlocked highway. If you’re driving on the Perimeter, or any of Atlanta’s highways, stay alert. It’s not the time to check your phone or even interact with your hands-free system. Follow the posted speed limits. Be aware of your blind spots when changing lanes, and be especially cautious when you’re operating in the blind spots of tractor-trailers.
Atlanta Car Crash Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you deserve fair compensation. An Atlanta car accident attorney can help you take on the insurance company, allowing you to move on with your life. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Litner + Deganian for a free consultation.