Georgia Roadway Deaths Hit Decade High In 2016

Alison Guillory / WABE

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As the year comes to a close, Georgia is setting a deadly record. The number of roadway fatalities has reached the highest point in a decade.

Around 1,500 people have died on state roads so far. It follows a trend set last year, when Georgia saw a spike in roadway deaths.

Jill Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said distracted driving is definitely a factor.

“People are just not paying enough attention on the roadways,” Goldberg said, “and we’re seeing that reflected in the increased fatalities.”

Goldberg said more people are also driving with a good economy and relatively low gas prices. They’re also finding many not wearing their seatbelts.

“Georgia has quite literally one of the worst problems in the country in terms of increasing severity and accidents,” said Robert Hartwig, a professor in the business school at the University of South Carolina.

Georgia’s roadway fatalities caught Hartwig’s attention when he looked into car insurance costs in the state.

He said while more deaths do not directly drive up insurance rates, they often indicate a rise in the number of severe accidents — which does affect rates. And the state is seeing those go up.

“It is a national phenomenon but Georgia is seeing some of the larger increases,” Hartwig said.

Allstate Insurance received much attention earlier this year when it made plans to raise its rates 25 percent.

The Georgia House Insurance Committee plans to review rates and the possible effects of deadly roads next month.

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