Atlanta Motorists Must Stay Clear of Emergency Lanes

Atlanta commuters must change their ways. Besides the normal issues of mass congestion, distracted driving and inadequate public transit, we also an issue that must be stopped, which is the over-usage of our emergency lanes during road closures and heavy rush hour backups.

In the last two months Atlanta has had at least 5 accidents where at least 10 vehicles, including a couple of tractor trailers have collided on Interstate 285. The strewn out crash blocked all of the through the lanes of the interstate, as rescue crews tried to assemble at the scene. Emergency staff and first responders are struggling to arrive at the scene of these accidents, even when 'Traffic Red Alerts' have been issued for extended periods of time, due to impatient motorists. This just should not be.

Emergency crews should not have to take forever scrambling to get to the scene of accidents, where injured people are awaiting ambulances, while impatient drivers jam the emergency lanes, just to avoid the wait to get home 10-15 minutes earlier! The blocked emergency lanes cause the Heros and ambulances to take in excess of up to 35 minutes and beyond, to arrive at the scene of accidents. This is ridiculous!

One of the biggest accidents so far in 2016 ended up with six seriously injured people, four adults, and two children. People illegally driving in the emergency lanes stymied the first response team for more than 45 minutes. In a worse crash, that delay could be the difference between life and death.

Two factors exacerbate this problem. One is that motorists feel entitled to the use of these lanes. As traffic gets worse, and drivers become more and more impatient, people just cannot stand to be even a little delayed, much less severely held up by a ''Red Alert.'' This pushes drivers to do some desperate, dangerous, and usually ignorant things. Driving on the shoulders is the main thing impatient drivers do.

A second problem is that of conditioning. In an effort to move traffic faster, GDOT has allowed traffic to use the right shoulder as an extra "flex lane" on parts of I-85NB in Gwinnett and on the Ga-400 expressway, during the rush hour. This has led many to think driving in these lanes is always ok, and has prompted them to do so all over the perimeter. This is no excuse!

Having recently come had the National Work Zone Awareness Month and National Public Safety Telecommunications Month, the suggestions rendered were to promote careful and undistracted driving in construction zones and around first responders. The latter is to thank the many 911 dispatchers who send the police, fire, and EMS to emergencies all over the city. The jobs of all involved would be much easier if motorists cooperated around flashing lights.

So Atlanta, listen up! Leave emergency lanes open! If these lanes remain open for the proper emergency crews, the injured will be attended to,  much sooner and lives will be saved.

Thanks Atlanta! We can do this!