Our fair city of Atlanta is home to three professional sports teams, CNN, numerous museums, an aquarium … and jaw-clenching traffic. Especially now that a critical portion of I-85 has been closed down due to a bridge collapse in March, these slow-downs and jams on Atlanta’s highways and streets are leading experts to rank our traffic among the worst in the country. As a matter of fact, the INRIX 2016 Global Traffic Scorecard estimates that the average Atlanta commuter spends 70.8 hours in traffic every year.
The good news is that you can benefit from our experience. Coolray has 243 trucks on Atlanta’s roads, so we know a thing or two about getting around town. Here are our best tips for getting through Atlanta traffic:
1. Take I-285. Normally, you won’t want to use I-285 (See point 3) at all, but considering the current closures, it might be just what you need. Circumventing the mid-town congestion may be far less migraine-inducing than your usual route. Just plan extra time for your commute.
2. When it’s raining. Plan an extra 30 minutes, and don’t get on I-285. Speaking of I-285…
3. Avoid I-285 if possible. According to HendrickAtlanta.com, “This highway was originally built as a way to get around the busy Atlanta traffic, but unfortunately, that was over half a century ago. Now, this popular solution has become another traffic problem. However, there are alternatives depending on what direction you’re heading. In the south area, you might want to try Forest Parkway/Flat Shoals Road, parallel to I-285. Then there’s 280, or James Jackson Parkway, an option on the west side of the route. You can also try I-75 if you don’t want to bother with a surface street. There are a few other options as well, so check different up-to-date route options on whatever navigation you may be using.”
4. Keep your navigation system updated. GPS systems can have out-of-date map data, so be sure you’ve got the latest version. Better still, use a wayfinding app like Waze that leverages real-time feedback from users to keep everyone notified about accidents, construction and other unforeseen tie-ups.
5. Keep out of far-right lanes. In Atlanta, these are mostly exit-only lanes. Don’t take a turn, or a sudden lane change, you don’t want to make. That kind of mistake will only add time to your commute.
6. Remember that it’s always rush hour in Atlanta. Plan ahead. It’s best to schedule your appointments for times outside the usual rush periods. Leave at 10am to get home by 3 or 4 if you can.
7. Don’t “block the box.” Entering an intersection before you can safely pass through does NO ONE any good and creates a lot of frustration. It slows everyone down, and you don’t get where you’re going any faster.
8. Don’t forget to call 511 – before you get stuck in traffic. Get the information you need to make a plan before you start the car. You can also use apps from G Dot (Georgia Department of Transportation) or check with the local media.
And if all else fails…
9. Give telecommuting a try. Talk to your employer about working from home one or more days per week. Taking a break from the traffic scrum once a week might be in everyone’s best interest.
More than anything, just be nice in traffic. Road karma has a way of coming back to bite us in the end, so do your best to drive humanely. You may feel rushed and frustrated, but everyone you see on the road has got to get somewhere too. And getting there safely is what it’s all about.