It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess that head-on car crashes are among the absolutely most dangerous kinds of car accidents. Surprisingly, the rate of these deadly frontal crashes is even higher in in rural areas than they are in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located.
I am a lawyer who handles head-on crash death lawsuits as well as cases involving injuries from those types of collisions. I have been blogging about a 2008 report by the Georgia DOT, Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information Notebook 2008, in which GDOT looked at how many head-on deadly crashes occurred per 100 million vehicle miles traveled on the roads in each of Georgia's 159 counties. By calculating the rate instead of just looking at the number of fatalities, the report evens out differences caused by uneven population counts. That way, counties can get a true sense of where they stand in terms of the dangers of people being killed in front-to-front car wrecks.
Fifteen counties had a rate of 0.3 or higher. Interestingly, only 2 of those counties made the list of the 20 most populated counties in Georgia. Paulding County, which is ranked 14th in terms of population, had a fatal front car wreck rate of 0.4. Carroll County, which is ranked 20th in terms of population, had a rate of 0.3.
The counties with the worst rates for head on fatal crashes were scattered across the state.
Franklin County, with its population of 21,864, had .4 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Habersham County (population of 43,279), Jackson County (with 61,257 people), Polk (41,211 residents), and Walton (84,580 citizens), all shared that same rate -- .4 deaths from head on crashes per 100 million miles traveled.
Two significantly larger counties - Paulding, which has a larger population of 143,542, and fast-growing Hall County, which currently has a population of 183,052, shared that same relatively high rate - .4 frontal crashes that resulted in fatalities per 100,000,000 miles driven.
Madison County has a population of 27,921, but it had a very high death rate of .5, as did Putnam County, which has 21,345 people.
The county that suffered far and away the highest rate of deadly head-on collisions was White County. White County has a population of 27,273, and is located in the northeast corner of Georgia. The largest city in White County is Cleveland, which has a population of 3425.
To give you an idea of how serious the problem was in White County, we can compare it to some of Georgia's other counties. Paulding County, for example, is generally considered to be in the Atlanta metro area and has a population of 143,542. Paulding County also had a rate that put it in the top 10 most dangerous counties for fatal front-on crashes - .4 deaths in head on car wrecks for every 100 million vehicle miles. Over the seven years of the study, 24 people died in head-on crashes in Paulding.
White County, on the other hand, has a much smaller 27,556 residents, yet had 11 deaths - a rate of .7 per 100 million vehicle miles driven. Thus, while Paulding County had more than 5 times the population of White County, it had only twice as many head-on crash deaths.
To make the issue even starker, gigantic Fulton County, with its population of 949,599, had a rate of only .1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The other most densely populated counties around the Atlanta metro area also saw only .1 fatalities per 100,000,000 vehicle miles. Gwinnett County, the second most populous county in Georgia, has 824,941 residents; third-place DeKalb County has 699,893 citizens, and Cobb County has a population of 697,553. Each of these counties, although much larger than White County, had significantly lower rates of fatal front-to-front wrecks.