ATLANTA — An 11Alive viewer named April reached out asking about the number of big rig trucks in the downtown area.
She travels the downtown connector to work and thought she remembered a law that restricted truck traffic in the city of Atlanta.
“I just feel there are more trucks than I’ve ever seen,” she told us. “I know a lot of rules and laws changed during COVID, so I was like, maybe they changed that rule.”
She swears she is seeing more trucks than ever in the area. So, we took a look to see if that is accurate.
Are there more tractor trailer trucks on the downtown connector than ever before?
Yes, truck traffic in downtown Atlanta has increased in recent years.
What we found
In 1978, the Georgia legislature passed a law directing truck drivers to take I-285 around the city of Atlanta unless they have a legitimate reason for entering the city. Those reasons include a delivery or pickup inside the perimeter or a visit to a repair shop.
“We don’t catch them all, but we do catch a high percentage I would say,” said Captain Pilcher, who oversees the Department of Public Safety unit that enforces that law. “Our main focus is to make sure we don’t have crashes in the city involving vehicles that shouldn’t be here in the first place.
In 2020, officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance Division wrote 325 tickets to truck drivers who weren’t supposed to be inside the perimeter. The number grew to 893 in 2021, then 1,248 last year.
Captain Pilcher said the increase in violators caught is directly connected to the overall increase in truck traffic.
“Absolutely there’s more trucks,” I don’t think the percentage of drivers who violate the law has changed. I think it’s in line with the growth of truck numbers on the highway," he said.
Officers are on pace to write another thousand tickets this year.
So, we can verify that truck traffic in downtown Atlanta has increased in recent years, and although most are there legally, the number of truck drivers caught traveling inside the perimeter without good reason has increased as well.