Drivers’ mob mentality: Beat the mob


Five minutes after the first snow flakes fell outside her Roswell office, Renee Schlosberg packed up and hit the road for home. She knew traffic would be bad, but, hey, she’s a metro Atlantan. She’s traffic-tough.

“You can’t live around here and not know how to deal with it,” said the 55-year-old market researcher. In the face of disaster, she said, only one rule applies: “You need to leave. Get out. Get out now.”

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of metro Atlantans were thinking exactly the same way Tuesday. So Schlosberg’s trip from Roswell to Kennesaw robbed her of 12 hours of her life.

A debacle of these proportions usually involves a confluence of factors. In this case, one huge contributor was the snap decision of innumerable drivers to plunge into a rapidly evolving traffic mess.

“They acted automatically, rather than with foresight,”said Michael Rodgers, a Georgia Tech transportation researcher, even as the evidence mounted that it would be a very nasty commute.

Of course, many people had few, if any, options. They had children they needed to pick up from schools that had released them early, or other, similarly pressing demands.

But others might have spent a more pleasant day and night if they had taken the time to consider other options, Rodgers said. They might have thought to check into a hotel with a group of co-workers, for instance.

Instead, he speculated, long, weary experience has probably made metro Atlanta commuters even more resigned to sitting in traffic than other city folk.

“Atlantans are conditioned to accept delays,” he said. “They’re probably willing to stick it out longer than other places.”

Up to a point.

Like Schlosberg, Norcross High School librarian Buffy Hamilton hit the road as fast as possible once the snow began — after about 20 minutes, in her case.

“I figured I’d just get ahead of whatever it was and get home safely,” said Hamilton, 42. In a nutshell, she thought, as she always thinks about her commute: “How can I outsmart the mob?”

Her 11-hour trip home to Canton took her through deeper and deeper levels of commuter hell. She spent two hours traveling just a few miles on State Bridge Road in north Fulton. Then things got worse.

As the hours wore on, urgency turned to patience, which turned to disbelief, anger and, with cars around her sometimes sliding perilously on the ice, plain fear. Someone tried to pass her and rear-ended her car in Alpharetta. The final stretch was measured in inches.

In retrospect, does she think she should have taken more time to assess the situation and weigh her options? Hardly. That would have only made matters worse, she said. The traffic would have solidified, as well as the ice on the roads.

For her, the lesson is clear, she said: “If there’s any chance, I’d leave earlier.”

Her and how many other drivers? Schlosberg, for one.

“It’s part of the game,” Schlosberg said. “You got to beat it.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season alters mass in this state
Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season alters mass in this state

Widespread influenza across Maine has prompted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to alter some traditions to keep parishioners healthy. The diocese announced Thursday that it's suspending the sharing of consecrated wine during communion and holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. The diocese is also discouraging parishioners from shaking hands...
Tractor-trailer carrying furniture hit, split in half by train in Gwinnett County
Tractor-trailer carrying furniture hit, split in half by train in Gwinnett County

A Norfolk Southern train hit a tractor-trailer that was stuck on railroad tracks in Norcross, Gwinnett County fire officials said.  The driver was out of the truck when the vehicle was hit Friday evening at the intersection of Thrasher Street and Holcomb Bridge Road.  Crews arrived to the scene and found the truck, which was carrying furniture...
Man found with cocaine charged with leaving friend pinned under car
Man found with cocaine charged with leaving friend pinned under car

For 10 minutes, Samuel Lloyd was pinned under his car outside a Clayton County home just after midnight last week. But police don’t know how he got there.  “His injuries were consistent with being run over,” Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said, “but at the time, officers could (not) confirm who caused the vehicle...
Wedding was called off, so groom’s mom went to sell ring and someone stole it
Wedding was called off, so groom’s mom went to sell ring and someone stole it

A Cobb County woman has become the latest victim of a crime that began by arranging to buy or sell something online. Lured by a man on the 5miles app, the woman wanted to sell her son’s wedding ring after the event was called off, Channel 2 Action News reported. So she agreed to meet the man in front of a Boost Mobile store in a strip mall in...
Flu deaths reach 12 in Georgia as flu remains widespread
Flu deaths reach 12 in Georgia as flu remains widespread

The number of flu deaths continues to climb in Georgia as the flu outbreak remains widespread here and across the country.  Influenza activity has increased sharply in Georgia and across the United States during recent weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the second week of the year, which runs from Jan....
More Stories