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Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

GDOT to Gwinnett drivers: Start carpooling more

The Georgia Department of Transportation has a message for Gwinnett drivers: carpool more.

Georgia Commute Options, a GDOT program, is working with Lanier High School in Gwinnett County to encourage more drivers to carpool to work.

The high school announced they will designate seven "carpool only" spaces in the parking lot in order to address traffic issues and promote environmental awareness.

Georgia Commute Options says they have similar programs in 35 schools across eight Georgia districts.

Fewer cars in the school zone can make students safer and reduce emissions, Georgia Commute spokeswoman Lesley Carter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"It's a lot of kids, a lot of cars," Carter said.

Lanier High School has nearly 1,800 students and up to 500 parking spots on campus. School communication officials said carpooling is not a popular practice among students who drive to school. GDOT is hoping to change that.

Carpooling has been declining in popularity for decades. In 1970, one in five commuters in this country carpooled. In 2014, just one in 10 commuters carpooled.

Gwinnett County has one of the highest rates of carpooling in the metro Atlanta area. Nearly 12 percent of Gwinnett residents carpooled to work in 2014, while the metro Atlanta average rate was less than 7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey.

Georgia Commute Options said there are many reasons commuters should consider carpooling.

"One of the biggest selling points is the cost-saving," Carter said.

According to AAA, driving a car 10,000 miles every year costs drivers an average of $7,544 a year, or about $628 a month.

"Sharing the ride can produce some real cost-saving," Carter said. You can estimate the costs of your own commute using the Georgia Commute Options calculator.

GDOT says the stress that comes with commuting can be alleviated by carpooling.

For example, the average commute time in Gwinnett County was 32 minutes and the statewide average was 27 minutes in 2014. GDOT says that carpoolers can use that time to catch up on work or other things, instead of concentrating on the road.

"It's a huge quality of life booster," Carter said.


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