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Is the state of the nation's roadways causing more truck accidents?

The memory of the nation's recent financial woes continues to fade thanks in large part to sustained job growth and consumer spending.

A person needn't look any further for evidence of this economic turnaround than the nearest highways, where there is now a steady stream of trucks carrying goods to destinations across the U.S. Indeed, statistics show that total truck tonnage hauled reached a record high in January and may rise by as much by 5.3 percent by the end of the year.

As encouraging as this, it's important to understand that this increase in truck traffic is not without certain risks, particularly as far as vehicle safety is concerned.

One of these risks, say experts, is posed by the road itself, as the nation's crumbling, crowded and antiquated highways can be especially difficult for trucks to navigate.

For example, they point to the countless exit ramps and cloverleafs constructed back in the 50s that are scattered throughout the nation, arguing that they are simply ill equipped for fast moving truck traffic and present an elevated rollover risk.

Nowhere is this theory perhaps better exemplified than here in our state and our state capital, where statistics show that over 200 people have been killed in semi rollover accidents in Georgia since 2001 and that over 200 semis have been involved in rollover accidents in Atlanta during this same timeframe.

In fact, the top 10 so-called "rollover hotspots" here in Atlanta are all exit ramps that share similar characteristics: drastic reductions in speed, obscured sightlines, and inadequate warning signs and flashing lights.

While the inadequacies of our highways can't be blamed for all of the rollover truck accidents -- dangerous behavior by truckers (speeding, distraction, fatigue) plays a major role -- they certainly aren't helping either.

Here's hoping lawmakers at both the state and federal level start to recognize this reality and implement the necessary measures to bring our highway system into the 21st century.

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