A video shared on social media has generated a lot of conversation about how Atlanta drivers are using the Ga. 400 shoulder lanes.
The video, posted on You Tube, shows a driver on Ga. 400 just before I-285 using the shoulder lane to cruise past traffic at about 3 p.m. Minutes later, the time lapsed video shows the same driver being pulled over by State Patrol..
The video prompted a lot of conversation about what Georgia drivers should and should not be doing in those flex lanes on Ga. 400 and when they should or should not be doing it. Much of the debate centered on whether drivers who use the lanes improperly are outright jerks or just confused commuters.
Flex shoulder lanes, the side lanes normally restricted to emergency vehicles that are opened for traffic during rush hour, were first used on Ga. 400 southbound in 2012. Rush hour is defined as 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Drivers using the shoulder lanes during those times are supposed to travel at 45 miles per hour.
Flex lanes first opened on Ga. 400 in 2012.
In 2015, the Georgia Department of Transportation opened five additional miles of flex shoulder lanes — four miles on Ga. 400 Northbound from Abernathy Road to the North Springs MARTA station; from the station to Northridge Road; and from Ga.120/Old Milton Parkway to Windward Parkway. On the southbound side, there was an additional mile of shoulder lane added from the North Springs MARTA station and ending at Abernathy.
“People are notorious for driving on the shoulder on 400. There’s probably not a single day that goes by without seeing it,” wrote on person.
Another viewer blamed the whole mess on the state.
“The state did this to themselves, though. The whole “shoulder lane” thing north of the perimeter just makes people think that they can do it anywhere, any time,” the viewer said.
Many others said the video gave them a sense of satisfaction because most of the drivers improperly using the shoulder lanes never get caught.
It seems Atlantans have a herd mentality as more than one driver noted seeing a single driver jump into the shoulder lane at the wrong place or wrong time only to be followed by a bunch of other drivers who feel if one car does it they can too.
When state patrol isn’t around to dole out justice, some Atlanta drivers said they take matters into their own hands.
One commenter who commuted from Ga. 400 into Buckhead daily would watch their side mirror when traveling in the outside lane. As soon as they saw a car speeding up the emergency lane, they would make the risky move of straddling the line and partially blocking the lane until the errant driver gave up and got back in the regular traffic lanes.
Police have tried to crack down on flex lane abusers who have caused accidents and unnecessary congestion by traveling in the lanes when they should not. In recent years, GDOT attempted to add better signage to help commuters know when it is okay to travel in those lanes, but the changes didn’t seem to help.
Now commuters traveling several miles from Spalding Drive to I-285 are learning what it’s like to lose their shoulder lane privileges. Construction crews working on GDOT’s Transform 285/400 project have occasionally prevented the use of the shoulder lanes this summer.
Over the next three years, the area will lose all shoulder lanes when the Transform project, a more permanent fix to the traffic congestion in certain areas, is complete.