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Will truck-only highway reduce injuries, congestion in Georgia?

The state of Georgia may be on to something with its plans to build a 41-mile stretch of highway from the southeast Atlanta metro to Macon. The idea behind the $2 billion project – set to begin in 2024 —  is to improve road safety as well as minimize congestion along Interstate 75 North (I-75).

Transportation officials predict that large truck traffic will double along the I-75 North corridor in the next 20 years, so the they view the project as a necessity. It also may lead to fewer collisions involving large trucks; a sight that few people ever forget.

Completion date in 2028

The nation’s first highway designated only for large trucks could lead to a safety and transportation trend around the country where millions of cargo-carrying big-rig trucks travel. Public safety advocates as well as the trucking industry applaud the I-75 North project, which could be finished by 2028.

The nation’s fatalities from large truck accidents have remained steady.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. reported 5,005 people died in 2019 in collisions involving large trucks. That was about the same number of truck-related fatalities as last year, which recorded 5,006. Georgia ranked fourth in the country with 204 such fatalities, after Texas (632), California (408) and Florida (349).

In addition, the 195 fatal truck wrecks reported in 2019 in Georgia represented almost 9% of the state’s total 2,197 fatal collisions.

Please understand that the odds are not in your favor of walking away unscathed from a collision with a large truck. The NHTSA noted that 71% of the people who died in such wrecks in 2019 traveled in other vehicles.

Some of those wrecks may be due to the horrific underride collision in which a smaller vehicle slides or skids underneath the side or rear of a large truck. Survivors sustain catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries and amputations.

The planned large truck-only highway in Georgia represents a potential solution toward reducing accidents with injuries or fatalities on I-75 North. Let us hope that planners and transportation officials are correct.