Atlanta Ranks Third Nationally In Traffic Congestion

ATLANTA — If you’re waiting for someone caught in a traffic jam somewhere in Metro Atlanta, you’re not alone. Atlanta now ranks third in the nation in traffic congestion.

Over the years, traffic in Atlanta has gotten more and more congested. In 1982, drivers sat stuck in traffic for just 19 hours each year. By 2000, that number jumped to 60 hours.

In 2007, things got a little better, but we’re still wasting hours and hours parked on the freeway.

Will nearly $1 billion in highway stimulus funds improve things? Don’t hold your breath.

Imagine wasting 57 hours a year sitting in traffic — more than your normal workweek. That was in 2007 when the Texas Transportation Institute did its latest study of Atlanta traffic as part of a nationwide study. It was released Wednesday.

Today it could be a lot worse.

And forget using federal stimulus money to make things better. That money will fix roads, traffic lights and bridges, but it will not improve the traffic flow.

Money for that will have to come from the Georgia Legislature, now working on a plan that will not reach voters until November 2010.

It could include a proposal from the Atlanta Regional Commission, looking to add a penny to the sales tax to jump start traffic improvements with $700 million a year.

An immediate goal, according to ARC director Chick Krautler, will be to divert traffic away from Downtown Atlanta.

I think bypasses of some sort outside of Metro Atlanta to move some of the traffic away from the city are absolutely essential,” Krautler said.

That’s something John Oxendine, a GOP gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Insurance Commissioner, supports.

“A freeway that would take South Georgia traffic, Florida traffic, traffic to and from the Port of Savannah — and let it all bypass through West Georgia and get nowhere near the streets of our city,” he said.

“We are looking at a system of high occupancy toll lanes. We’ve got bottlenecks that have to be fixed like the 400 and 285 interchange and other interchanges throughout the region,” Krautler said.

With transportation and traffic becoming key gubernatorial campaign issues, Roy Barnes, former governor and present Democratic candidate, wants action now.

“We’ve talked about transportation solutions but we never have come together to try and do it. And it has now become an emergency, a crisis,” Barnes said.

All sides agree that it will take a combination of bypasses, toll roads and mass transit to get Atlanta out of the top rankings for most serious traffic congestion. It will also take legislative action to get funding before anything can be improved.

Story from 11Alive.com

Atlanta Traffic Ticket Lawyer

Dekalb County Georgia Prosecuters Uncover Traffic Ticket Fixing Scheme

DECATUR, Ga. – DeKalb County prosecutors say they have uncovered a sophisticated traffic ticket fixing scheme involving three former county employees who used a team of local workers to help attract business.

District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming said Thursday that the three former deputy clerks with the county’s recorder’s court face racketeering charges. Five others face charges of making false statements, bribery and other charges.

Fleming said the former deputy clerks would arrange to destroy or dismiss the ticket for a fee of 50 percent of the fine. She said the three also had associates, including two who worked at a local salon, who would help attract business. She said sometimes they were given a 25 percent finder’s fee.

Article from the August Chronicle

Dekalb County Ga Traffic Ticket?

Some Insurance Rates On Cars To Rise In Georgia

Some Georgians will see their private passenger car insurance rates go up soon, and a change in Georgia laws regulating those increases continues to put the state insurance commissioner at odds with legislators and the insurance industry.

Several companies have informed the commissioner’s office they’ll be raising rates on auto insurance, though five others say their rates are coming down. And Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine says the Legislature has stripped his power to block any increases with a law that took effect Oct. 1

“I can’t even do an investigation afterwards and say ‘you were charging too much.’ … The law specifically prohibits me,” Oxendine said this past week

Others disagree, saying Oxendine’s office can no longer block the increases, but he can still require companies to lower rates after the fact, if they’re deemed to be excessive.

“The standards still say the rates can’t be ‘excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory,’” said Gould Hagler, executive director of the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia.

The new law changed Georgia from a “prior approval” state, where the insurance commissioner approves rates before they go into effect, to a “file and use” state. That means the rates can take effect after a company inform’s the commissioner of its intent.

The law is meant to broaden competition, but it remains to be seen how it will affect future rates. For now, rate changes are coming that Oxendine questions.

That includes a company Oxendine’s office already approved increases for this year, before the law changed. Now 21st Century Insurance Company wants another increase, for a total of 16.5 percent, Oxendine said.

“And that’s something that we wouldn’t let people do (under the old law),” Oxendine said.

State Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, sponsored a separate insurance bill dealing with uninsured motorist rules, and the change was tacked onto that bill, which quickly passed the Legislature. Staton noted that the cost of required minimum coverages still can’t increase without Oxendine’s approval. Oxendine counters that 90 percent of Georgians have more auto insurance than that.

Though most of the changes are increases, Geico, which operates a large call center in Macon, will lower various rates. It’s small, an average of .9 percent, but will be accompanied by another decrease in January, said Shawn Burklin, the company’s Southeastern regional vice president.

“The legislation just allows us to be able to put in new rates faster,” Burklin said. “Our rates would be the same regardless.”

Of the 19 companies that have filed for rate changes lately, 14 plan average increases and five average decreases. Several of the companies seeking an increase are owned by AIG, which was recently the recipient of billions in federal bailout dollars. Individual changes vary widely based on the company, the type of policy and the type of driver.

For example: One company wants to increase rates for a 28-year-old male with a DUI by more than 80 percent, but the average change across the company’s various policies is actually a small decrease.

The average changes for the 19 companies vary from a 10 percent decrease to an 11 percent increase.

It’s not clear what the long-term effect of the change in the law will be. But these most recent increases are higher, for the most part, than increases approved for the same companies before the law changed, according to figures provided by the commissioner’s office going back to Jan. 1, 2007.

Burklin said the new law will “create better competition in Georgia,” because it allows rate changes to take effect faster.

Oxendine, who is running for governor in 2010, said he doubts that. And he complained that the Legislature approved the change quickly, quietly and without consulting him.

“No one ever included the department,” he said. “No one ever reached out to the public.

Article by Travis Fain, Macon.com

Fight that Georgia traffic ticket with experienced legal help.

Georgia Police Cracking Down On Seat Belt Use

ALBANY,GA. — Summer 2008 marks the fifth consecutive year that waves of law enforcement patrols in 159 Georgia counties will be cracking down on the dangerous, aggressive, and high-speed drivers who place thousands of innocent lives in peril on Georgia highways every summer. Let’s face it. In Georgia, it’s not the humidity bothering habitual speeders this summer, it’s the H.E.A.T.!

H.E.A.T. stands for “Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic.” The 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign is a multi-jurisdictional highway safety enforcement strategy designed to reduce high-fatality crash-counts during the potentially deadly summer holiday driving period from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays.

This year, H.E.A.T. enforcement begins Monday, May 19th, on the same day as Georgia’s statewide Click It Or Ticket safety belt enforcement initiative.  Law enforcement agencies across the state are once again rolling-out a full-scale, high-profile enforcement mobilization to crackdown on the worst speed offenders.

The summer-long enforcement campaign is designed to make those high-risk drivers feel the H.E.A.T. on their checkbooks, license points and insurance rates.  H.E.A.T. means citations for speeding and aggressive driving.. Tickets for failing to buckle-up their kids or wear safety belts.. And jail time for drunk and drugged driving.  Why?  Because our highway safety data shows speed, impaired driving and unrestrained driving are still the top three causes of fatality crashes, not just during the summer holidays, but throughout the year.

“So in 2008, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) will continue to coordinate one of the longest, toughest, and most ambitious Summer H.E.A.T. highway safety initiatives ever launched in this state,” said GOHS Director Bob Dallas.  “Waves of law enforcement patrols including police, sheriff’s deputies, State Troopers and State Motor Carrier Compliance officers will help us crack-down on the high-speed motorists, the impaired motorists, and the unbuckled motorists who make highway travel a danger for the safe drivers across Georgia.”

“Our message to Georgia’s high-risk drivers is clear,” said GOHS Director Dallas. “Safety belt, DUI, and speed law violations will not be tolerated.  So once again it’s time to buckle-up, secure the kids in their safety seats, drive sober, and obey the speed limits during the long summer holiday driving period. Let’s make them safe and keep them safe.”

Georgia’s Highway Safety Director says there’s another common sense advantage to slowing down this summer, and that’s saving money.  With holiday gas prices predicted to spike around $4.00 for a gallon of unleaded, motorists should regard speed as a costly formula for both higher fines and fuel costs.

“Besides getting you a ticket, speeding, along with jack-rabbit-starts and sudden-stops wastes gas,” said Director Dallas.  “Your car’s fuel efficiency begins to rapidly decrease at speeds over sixty mph.  A lead-foot can lower your gas mileage by 5-percent around town and as much as 33-percent at highway speeds.”  “So as a rule of thumb, every five miles-an-hour you drive over sixty is like paying an additional twenty cents-a-gallon at the pump!  For high-risk drivers who don’t seem to care if speed is a killer on our roads, maybe now it matters if it’s murder on their wallets,” said Dallas.  “Driving at the speed limit saves gas.  We already know it saves lives.  Why not do both this summer?”

Speeding is risky business behind the wheel. Today the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety issued this statewide warning to high-risk drivers:  “The countdown is done and the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. have officially begun.  Somewhere in Georgia there’s an officer with a ticket book waiting for speed law breakers during The 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T.

Story from WFXL Fox 31, Georgia

Georgia Traffic Violations Lawyer