Stories abound about the hardships of navigating through Atlanta. Many people feel those tales are largely exaggerated until they experience it for themselves. At that point, they realize that driving in Atlanta can, indeed, be an exercise in patience and resilience. At certain times, it can even be an exercise in futility. In light of all the challenges of the city itself and the rest of the metropolitan area, getting around can certainly be daunting.
What Makes Driving in Atlanta So Challenging?
Several factors go into the challenges of driving in Atlanta. They all come together to leave drivers wishing they’d booked an airport shuttle Atlanta or, at the very least, brought along something a bit stronger than relaxing music to calm their nerves. One of the main factors contributing to the issue is the sheer size of the city. It’s the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the nation.
Population and Traffic Congestion
The population of the city of Atlanta itself well exceeds 495,000 people, but that of the entire metropolitan area tops 6 million. On top of that, you have over 150,000 businesses and hundreds of thousands of commuters coming and going. It’s a big place, and growth in recent years has exceeded the capacity of the area’s infrastructure. Naturally, that means the roads are heavily congested.
Atlanta’s incredibly intricate web of roadways can be a major hurdle as well, even for seasoned drivers. Interstates crisscross each other. Certain exits seem to appear out of nowhere. One road unexpectedly transitions into another, making even figuring out which names apply to which streets a confusing endeavor. Missing an exit can mean disaster, especially if you’re on a fixed schedule. Even GPS sometimes becomes confused, and if this invaluable tool happens to lose its connection en route, it makes for quite an interesting journey.
In some cities, simply avoiding peak traffic times when possible is the key to simplifying an outing. That’s not necessarily the case in Atlanta. In some portions of the area, traffic begins backing up before 5:00 A.M. with the morning rush lasting until 10:00 or so. Then, you have the lunch rush that often begins around 11:00 and lasts until around 2:00 P.M. The evening rush is worst from approximately 3:00 through 8:00. In Atlanta, the only real way to avoid the heaviest of traffic is to travel between 10:00 P.M. and 4:00 A.M. Even then, drivers often get more than they bargained for.
Driving Habits and Accidents
Drivers are also major culprits in the hardships of driving in Atlanta. Aggressive lane changers mingle with overly cautious slow movers. That doesn’t necessarily mean those on either end of the spectrum are in the wrong. After all, the courtesy of allowing other drivers to change lanes when needed is rare these days, and recklessness brings about the need for extra caution. On top of that, you’re up against certain drivers who seem to believe they’re part of the Fast & Furious franchise.
All that makes for tricky navigation and rattled nerves. It also leads to high numbers of accidents. More than 30,000 traffic accidents happen in Atlanta each year. Those crashes, combined with already heavy traffic and the other factors mentioned here, routinely bring traffic to a screeching halt. Slowdowns and backups often stretch for miles, making even fairly short trips far longer and more difficult than they need to be.
Successfully Traversing Atlanta
Atlanta is truly a wonderful city. The rich history of the downtown area gives way to the modern elements of the greater metro area, creating a unique mix. From employment opportunities and exciting attractions to dining and cultural experiences, there’s something here for everyone.
All that being said, yes, driving around Atlanta can leave even the locals feeling overwhelmed. With all the factors contributing to the struggles of Atlanta driving, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.