Summer road trips are the stuff memories are made of, but drivers need to be careful so they don't end up making the wrong kind of memories.
Atlanta is a prime tourist destination, with the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau reporting some 51 million visitors in 2015, including 1.2 million international guests. These figures represent a 50 percent increase just in the last six years, as the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports there were 34 million visitors in 2009.
AAA reports that on Memorial Day weekend alone, nearly 40 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more — with about 88 percent of those traveling by car. Here in Atlanta, traffic is notorious as it is, with four interstates serving the metropolitan area. Two of those — I-20 and I-85 — were out of commission after two separate and unrelated road collapses in March and April. Both have been repaired in time for summer, which is good news because Atlanta receives an influx of tourists during this time. Hundreds of thousands more pass through on the interstates.
Certainly, sturdy infrastructure is important, and so are the precautions drivers take when preparing for a road trip. Georgia Code Title 40 outlines motor vehicle traffic laws, with Chapter 6 outlining the overall Uniform Rules of the Road. Obeying these statues is a must, but road trippers need to go beyond this.
Smart Road Trip Preparation
Some considerations include:
- Making sure your vehicle is in good working order. That means getting a tune-up, oil change, and tire rotation before heading out. You want to make certain you can respond quickly and effectively to sudden danger, and that means having a vehicle that will respond to your controls. Maintaining it in accordance with manufacturer guidelines will help.
- Planning your route ahead of time. Our car accident lawyers in Atlanta know you can't predict every scenario on the road, but you should have a good sense of where you're going, how long it's going to take you to get there and whether you'll need to stop and rest. This will reduce your temptation to speed or drive aggressively, and it will also ensure you're well-rested and alert for the trip. This is especially important when you're traveling on roads and in conditions with which you are not familiar.
- Avoid driving distracted. Georgia law bans all drivers from texting behind the wheel, and motorists under 18 are forbidden from talking on the phone at all while driving. If necessary, remind your passengers that for the safety of everyone in the car, you must concentrate on your driving. Give children plenty of activities and snacks so that you can keep your focus on the road.
- Watch for commercial trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were nearly 4,100 people killed and 116,000 injured in car accidents involving large trucks. There were 433,000 large trucks involved in police-reported crashes. Those traveling the interstate on road trips are more likely to encounter these vehicles, which can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. Large trucks can't stop as quickly as other vehicles, so it's important not to cut in front of them and avoid their blind spots if you can. If a trucker is negligent and causes a crash, your case may have gotten more complicated, so it will be important to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.
We should point out that if you are involved in a crash with a rental car, the federal Graves Amendment, codified in 49 U.S.C. 30106, will most likely prohibit any claim you would otherwise have against the rental car company (i.e., the vehicle owner). However, you have a number of legal avenues you can explore. Our dedicated Atlanta injury lawyers can help.