Georgia was the last of the 13 colonies to be settled in the United States and was originally developed for two purposes; as a debtor’s colony and a military buffer zone against the Spanish in Florida at the time. Georgia was one of the original seven southern states to secede from the Union and was actually the last to rejoin in 1870. Today Georgia is the 24th largest state in the Union and the 8th most populous with over 10 million inhabitants and Atlanta being its capital city. The metropolitan area of Atlanta accounts for over half of the state’s population.
As a large landmass state in the southeast, it is considered a humid subtropical climate except in the northern parts of the state in the North Georgia Mountains. With its proximity to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, including 100 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline it is subject to both Hurricanes off the coast and tropical storms that encroach from the Gulf. In addition it is one of the most active Tornado states although most tornadoes average only an F1 category rating. Although snow, sleet and icy conditions are rare on much of the roadways in Georgia, there have been massive winter storms as in 2014, when a massive system dumped snow, sleet and ice grinding Atlanta roadways to a halt. Thousands were stranded in their vehicles during the storm without proper winter roadway clearing equipment and resulted in three babies to be born on the highways. Over 3000 US flights were cancelled during the storm with Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being hardest hit.
Transportation in Atlanta
With the busiest passenger airport in the world located in Atlanta, it is a hub city for air travelers and tourists. Many of these travelers stay overnight or weekends in the city providing a continuous stream of tourists for historic Atlanta. MARTA, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, is the main rapid transit system in Atlanta that maintains an active bus route system and 48 miles of tracked light rail and subway throughout the city. Unfortunately, most outlying counties are not connected directly into the system of MARTA because of a desire to remain separate from Atlanta. MARTA handles almost 500,000 passengers daily, making it the largest people mover in the state besides personal vehicles.
With 4 major Interstate Highways in Georgia including I-75, I-85, I-95 and I-20, it is one of the most criss-crossed states with major interstate roads. Atlanta is also ringed by I-285 providing a by-pass route for trucks and those wishing to avoid the major urban hub. Another issue with driving in Georgia deals with their street naming conventions, as every county keeps their own naming conventions in place for roads that transect the state. This causes major confusion for out-of-state drivers as a single road can be named and demarked by multiple different names across short spans of roadway.
In the State of Georgia driving under the influence is not considered a criminal offence until the third offense. 1st and 2nd offences are considered misdemeanors. With alcohol related fatality accidents reaching almost 25% of all auto fatalities in the state, a startling statistic; the state’s enforcement agencies have instituted “Operation Zero Tolerance”. It is an enforcement program to bring to the attention of drivers that any offenses where your Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) is greater than 0.8% will result in criminal charges and most likely jail time.
Georgia has a 10-year look back policy in regards to DUIs and a fourth charge within that amount of time can result in felony charges and a prison sentence as much as five years.
State Specific Laws
Although the state has not enacted a total hand-held ban, there is a texting ban across all drivers and all drivers 18 years or younger are banned from cell phone use during driving as well. Maximum speed limits throughout the state include a maximum of 70mph for Interstate highways and 65mph maximum for all other roads. All vehicle occupants are required to wear safety belts and motorcycle riders require helmet use.
The state also has red light camera automatic enforcement with a $70 maximum fine and is applied to the owner of the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle is liable for all red light camera fines.
A Terrible Commute
Being ranked 49th in the nation for transportation funding has labeled commuting in Georgia to be “famously terrible,” even with the multiple interstate highways intersecting the state. With a state government that maintains a laissez-faire approach to the economy, Georgia has consistently fallen in the ranks against other states that have taken more direct measures in their economies. With their economy still wallowing to catch up to pre-2008 levels, the transportation model is likely to be one of the last to receiving funding upgrades.
It is a surprise then that the state is second in electric vehicles and supports an active electric vehicle rebate. Although putting more electric cars on the road is good overall, with no overall mass transportation plan in the city of Atlanta that connects with outlying counties, commuters will feel the pain for decades to come.
Did You Know That…
1. The State of Georgia has the second largest number of Electric Vehicles in the United States.
2. There are 8.7 million registered vehicles in Georgia including automobiles, trucks, motorcycles and buses.
3. Georgia is the 14th most expensive state for car insurance.
4. The state is named after British Monarch, King George II.
5. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta; his childhood home remains a museum.
6. US Highway 27 runs the entire length of the state.
7. Georgian Laws mandate the amount of minimum car insurance you must carry.
8. Atlanta is the most expensive city in Georgia for car insurance.
9. Move-over law has been instituted in Georgia for emergency vehicles.
10. You can attain a conditional driver’s license at the age of only 15 in Georgia.