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Jeff Whitten: Georgia a great place to drive in
editor's notes

If you think driving around here is bad, think again. According to a recent press release from WalletHub, Georgia ranks No. 6 overall when it comes to best states to drive in.

I’ll admit to being surprised we’ve got it so good. Next time I get stuck behind a convoy of dump trucks and tailgated by some 100-pound good old girl in a 50,000pound pickup, I’ll remember there poor chumps like me in 44 other states who have it worse.

There is, of course, a caveat. As best as I can figure out, a good bit of Georgia’s positive rating was due to things such as “cost of ownership and maintenance,” as well as “access to vehicles and maintenance.”

Georgia was also 26th in car theft rate, 18th in auto repair shops per capita, 19th in average gas prices, fifth in auto maintenance costs, sixth in road quality (???!!) and 16th in car dealerships per capita.

In other areas, the Peach state didn’t fare nearly so well in this study – ranking 39th in traffic and infrastructure and 27th in safety.

That part probably ain’t news to anyone who drives anywhere in the Coastal Empire these days, and Lord help you if you have to drive up to Atlanta – which seems to be what developers here are aspiring to turn this area into, and succeeding.

That aside, maybe Georgia’s easy access to vehicles is the reason it is so far below average in traffic and infrastructure.

Everybody’s got a vehicle, everybody is out there driving them around and getting in everybody’s way.

My wife, who once used to fuss at me for cussing about traffic – “you should live on your own little island where you can drive around all by yourself all day with no other traffic on the roads,” was her favorite rejoinder – has now joined the traffic haters club. It took the explosion of truck traffic from the ports driving all over here and sundry to push her over the edge.

After all, we live in a place that didn’t really see a boom in tree-knocking-down-forest- clearing residential development until the mid-to-late 1990s, and my wife took the view that there wasn’t much we could do about it so might as well learn to get along with all our new neighbors on the roads. But they just keep coming, more and more and more of them.

While residential development has continued pretty much unabated apart from a couple years when the recession (caused by the real estate bubble) slowed things down a bit, it’s been augmented and in some senses overtaken by industrial or commercial development, especially with regard to warehouses. And that means trucks. Lots and lots of trucks.

In my neighborhood, we now have three such industrial parks within a couple mile radius and more are on the way, and this in an area with an elementary school and thousands of single-family homes, some apartments and town homes, several churches and the requisite Parkers and Enmarkets and so on.

And because there are only a couple of ways for commuters to get to Savannah or elsewhere, and we’re in their way, every day traffic flows and ebbs and flows.

That means the roar of motors and hum of tires is a constant, and the sirens of first responders heading to fender benders occur several times a day.

You might wish someone would go out and fix the problem by making more roads, but every time a road gets built or widened or improved it’s a sure bet a subdivision or strip mall or warehouse is about to pop up and within a year or two you’re right back where you were, stuck in traffic.

In fairness to the Georgia Department of Transportation and local officials tasked with this particular infrastructure, they’re dealing with growth that goes above and beyond anything reasonable, or normal. When your area population is growing by double digits, it’s not easy to keep up.

Besides, all this new stuff coming at us is probably good for our souls, since it should give us more empathy with Native Americans, those poor suckers who were here first and got run off by our ancestors, the first developers.

Anyhow, if you want to read the full report go to to drive in.

Better yet, let’s all move to Iowa. It ranked No. 1.

Whitten is editor of the Bryan County News. Dump truck drivers pull out in front of him every day. They must hate him.

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