There are nearly 7 million licensed drivers in Georgia, traveling across countless freeways, intersections, and congested roads every day. With so many drivers on the road, getting in a car accident may seem more like a matter of “when” rather than “if” – and a serious collision can be deadly.
But are there sections of Georgia’s road network that are inherently unsafe? Places where road fatalities occur more often?
To find the answer, we turned to data visualization firm 1Point21 Interactive. Using motor vehicle fatality data from 2013 – 2015, we analyzed all major interstates, highways, and primary arterial corridors in Georgia in search of road segments with the highest incidence of fatal crashes.
Through our analysis, we found that 427 fatal crashes occurred on just 57 stretches of Georgia road totaling 277 miles. These crashes resulted in 460 fatalities, with 20 percent being drunk driving-related deaths.
*Zoom in and hover over colored road segments to reveal the details of that highway stretch. If viewing on a mobile device, rotate for best experience.
We identified 57 deadly highway stretches, where five or more fatal crashes occurred within 2.5 miles of each other. We then normalized and ranked them by fatal crashes per mile. These are the deadliest places on Georgia’s highways:
|wdt_ID||Rank||Road||City||Mile Point||Fatal Crashes||Fatalities||Length||Fatal Crashes Per Mile|
|2||3||Mike Padgett Hwy||Augusta||52||6||6||1.29||4.65|
|4||4||Lee St SW||Atlanta||158||5||5||1.17||4.27|
|5||5||I- 85||Atlanta||Piemont Ave||10||10||2.46||4.07|
|6||6||Wesley Chapel Rd||Decatur||68||5||7||1.42||3.52|
|8||8||Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW||Atlanta||126.5||6||6||1.80||3.33|
|9||9||Old National Hwy||Atlanta||312||12||12||3.73||3.22|
UPDATE: A previous version of this study referred to several of the stretches as ‘dangerous’. To remain consistent with the title and purpose of our study, we amended these instances to read ‘deadly’. The goal of our analysis was to pinpoint potential problem areas where high concentrations of fatal crashes occurred. While it may stand to reason that, for instance, a one mile section of highway where five fatal crashes occurred is dangerous, it is difficult to label it as so without further investigation of that section.
As attorneys, we routinely see the aftermath of serious car accidents. While we are passionate advocates for injured people, we jumped at the opportunity to potentially help make Georgia a safer place for drivers. Being aware of locations with a high concentration of fatal crashes can help drivers make better choices in their vehicle and even lead to identifying and fixing potentially dangerous conditions. If our study helps one person avoid a fatal accident, we would consider it a rousing success.
By far the largest city in Georgia, Atlanta contained 13 of the deadliest stretches of road, the highest in the state. These lengths, totaling nearly 40 miles of road, accounted for 97 fatal crashes and 101 fatalities – more than a fifth of all fatal crashes and fatalities on our list.
A 3.73-mile stretch of Old National Highway tops the list in fatal crashes and fatalities with 12 each, but the most deadly length is a small section of Interstate 20 located northwest of the Summerhill neighborhood. Although this stretch recorded just 5 fatal crashes and 5 fatalities, at just 0.98 miles, it has the highest fatal crashes per mile in Atlanta with 5.10. Additionally, of those fatalities, 60 percent were drunk driving-related deaths – the highest percentage of any of the stretches we analyzed in entire state.
Despite being the second most populous city in Georgia, Augusta only had 2 deadly stretches of highway with 5 or more fatal crashes: a 1.29-mile length of Mike Padgett Highway and a 2.42-mile stretch of Gordon Highway. Each produced 6 fatal crashes and 6 fatalities, giving Mike Padgett Highway nearly twice the fatal crashes per mile (4.65) compared to Gordon Highway (2.48) – and making it the stretch with the second highest fatal crashes per mile on our list.
Savannah contained 3 deadly stretches of highway, totaling 19 fatal crashes and 20 fatalities across 13.07 total miles. Although a 5.96-mile stretch of Abercorn Street had the highest amount of fatal crashes and fatalities at 8 each, a 2.82-mile length of Interstate 516 had the highest fatal crashes per mile, at 2.13.
According to our data, Athens did not record any stretches of road with more than five fatal crashes. However, a stretch of Jefferson Road is close, with 4 fatal crashes and 5 fatalities. Although that just missed our criteria, it’s worth noting that these collisions were concentrated in a tiny section of road spanning just 0.36 miles. By our calculations, that’s an incredible 11.11 fatal crashes per mile – more than twice the highest fatal crashes per mile of any other stretch on our list. That is certainly a stretch worth investigating further.
Macon is home to 5 deadly road lengths totaling 21.98 miles. These stretches recorded 31 fatal crashes, 37 fatalities, and 5 drunk driving deaths. For comparison, Augusta has more than twice the population with less than half the fatal crashes and fatalities.
A 3.34-mile stretch of Pio Nono Avenue had the most fatal crashes and fatalities with 8 and 10, respectively, while a 2.38-mile length of Houston Road had the highest fatal crashes per mile with 2.94.
Although Decatur has a population of roughly 23,000 Georgians. Unincorporated Decatur (several surrounding zip codes use the name Decatur) encompasses a larger area and population. Still, 7 deadly stretches of road were found in Decatur, all of which are located in unincorporated Decatur – second only to Atlanta. Totaling 37.12 miles, these stretches accounted for 47 fatal crashes and 51 fatalities.
The deadliest stretch in postal Decatur? A 1.42-mile stretch of Wesley Chapel Road which recorded five fatal crashes and seven fatalities, 3.52 fatal crashes per mile.
The postal Decatur area also recorded 16 drunk driving fatalities – about 31 percent of total fatalities. By comparison, just 19 percent of Atlanta’s fatalities were attributed to drunk driving.
Through our analysis, we found other deadly roads in smaller Georgia towns that were important to note:
• East Point – This suburban city located southwest of Atlanta was home to a stretch of Interstate 285 that had 30 fatal crashes, 32 fatalities, and 7 drunk driving fatalities – the highest amounts of each on our list. However, it’s also the longest stretch of highway on our list, resulting in a scant 1.72 fatal crashes per mile. Despite the high quantity, this makes it considerably less deadly than other roads on this list.
• Jonesboro – A 10.19-mile length of Tara Road recorded 15 fatal crashes and fatalities, the second highest on our list. However, due to its length, it only had 1.47 fatal crashes per mile.
• Kennesaw – A small 1.07 stretch of Interstate 75 in Kennesaw topped our list for fatalities per mile with 5.59, and ranked second for fatal crashes per mile with 4.67.
With heavy traffic, congestion, and large volumes of commuters at nearly all times of the day, the Interstate freeways in Georgia certainly have a reputation for being dangerous places to drive.
According to our data, the danger of the interstate freeway holds some credence. Of the 57 deadly roads segments we’ve pinpointed, 26 are sections of interstate freeway.
Our analysis uses FARS data for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 along with primary and secondary road boundary data from the U.S. Census. We plotted all fatal crashes and created the segment data with those that occurred within 2.5 miles of each other. We included only stretches where at least five fatal crashes occurred. More information is available upon request.