Local officials don't think the data represented in the ranking is fair. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 10, 2011)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta is getting some national attention and not necessarily the good kind.
It may have you on edge the next time you get behind the wheel.
A new report says Augusta is the third most dangerous city in the entire country for driving and that has some local officials taking a closer look at those numbers.
We wanted to know: Are Augusta's roads really this deadly?
"To say that we're No. 3 is not a fair assessment at all," said Richmond County Cpt. Scott Gay.
The report grabs Richmond County's fatality numbers from 2008 and configures them with our population of 200,000.
Gay says despite what we've seen on the roads this year, our numbers have actually dropped since 2008.
"Our numbers are up this year," Gay said. "That's based on a ton of reasons, for example, we had 3 people killed on one accident earlier this year."
Numbers that should be looked at by case.
"I mean is the whole county unsafe if I have 37 fatalities in one roadway and one somewhere else? What's my problem?" asked Augusta City Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell. "Is it countywide or is that roadway?"
Cassell said you would never just look at one year or per capita.
"You would never look at countywide numbers and say they are unsafe, I mean, you would look at certain segments or roadways see how much vehicle traffic you have there and see if you have a pattern or something like that where you can make corrections," he said.
Take Highway 56's track record, for example. It's dubbed as South Augusta's serial killer.
"That's got a high fatality rate and there are corrections and they are out getting right-of-ways, widening the roads and getting some medians to correct some of the issues contributing," Cassell said.
Gay says although the data could be skewed, it's not meant to be ignored.
"They're not fair numbers, but certainly we have to be responsive to any report that's publicized," Gay said.
A report that's raising eyebrows among the very people working to keep these roads safe.
"The report doesn't say anything that would make me jump, you know, it's a scare tactic of some sort," Cassell said. "I don't know what the purpose is."
Local officials stress the fact that there are many contributing factors that can't be bottled up into a Top 15 list.
In fact, they say wet roads contribute and we've been in and out of a drought.
1. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
2. Orlando, Fla.
3. Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.
4. Little Rock, Ark.
5. San Bernadino, Calif.
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
7. Chattanooga, Tenn.
8. Jackson, Miss.
9. Memphis, Tenn.
10. Lubbock, Texas
11. Jacksonville, Fla.
12. St. Petersburg, Fla.
13. Tulsa, Okla.
14. Birmingham, Ala.
15. Oklahoma City, Okla.
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