• GDOT admits 'optical illusion' could be causing rollover crashes on I-285 ramp


    ATLANTA - At least 25,000 drivers use the ramp from Interstate 285 southbound onto Interstate 20 eastbound each day. But thousands more feel the impact when trucks tip over during the nearly 180-degree curve.

    A Channel 2 Action News investigation found it's not just coincidence.

    Investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer filed open records requests and found at least 10 truck rollovers or sideswipes in the last year and a half. Five trucks rolled over between this past November and January in the same location.

    "It's like deja vu," said WSB traffic reporter Mark Arum, "That interchange has kept me in business for 18 years."

    Arum says has seen everything from beer, to eggs, to cattle, to auto parts tumble onto that DeKalb County ramp.

    It has as many tire marks on the walls as it does on the roadway.

    Our camera rolled as even cars struggled to say in their own lane.

    "I'm not an engineer," said Arum, "But common sense says there's something wrong there."

    So Fleischer asked an actual engineer to go out and take a look.

    Herman Hill worked for Georgia's Department of Transportation for 15 years, and now works as a road engineering consultant.

    "We have other ramps like this in the Atlanta area, so it's not that this is a horrible design," said Hill.

    First he checked to make sure the ramp was constructed properly, and to the specifications that GDOT wanted.

    Next, he measured the slope to see if resurfacing projects over the years had made the ramp steeper.

    But the two problems he did find didn't require any fancy equipment ... just a car.

    "If you have that straightaway entrance into it, it can confuse people," said Hill.

    The first problem 

    Hill says more than half a mile of straightaway leads into the curve, which typically makes drivers drive faster.

    Plus, the view is blocked by trees, so the curve doesn't really come into view until you're already in it.

    "We're coming off 285, we're probably going 70-75," remarked Hill.

    The warning signs recommend 35 miles per hour.

    "I'm down to 30 right now," said Herschel Evans, a North Georgia trucker who allowed Channel 2 to ride along on that ramp.

    He pointed out some of the same issues.

    "This sign coming up to this ramp, where it says I-20 Augusta-Atlanta, it's showing a straight line," said Evans, "It doesn't allude to that it's going to be almost a 180 [degree curve.]"

    Most of the rollovers happen in the first few feet, meaning the curve is catching truckers by surprise.

    A higher center of gravity and a heavy load can make a truck more difficult to maneuver at the last minute, so truck drivers cannot typically react as quickly as car drivers can.

    "The priority there is to get that message to the people approaching a half a mile away here that we've got a problem ahead," said Hill.

    GDOT plans to install six truck tipover signs at the beginning of that straightaway, along with new speed advisory signs, including flashing lights.

    The second problem

    "Your driver expectancy can be that I'm going straight ahead," said Hill. 

    There is one lane of highway to the drivers' right that does continue straight.

    If the driver can't see the curve, they might think the straight lane is theirs.

    GDOT says a state engineer spotted it too.

    "There's a bit of an optical illusion when you're taking that straightaway into that ramp where if you don't notice the curve coming, and you're looking straight ahead it looks as if the road continues," acknowledged Dale.

    She says GDOT plans to install reflective panels along the median wall to block that view, so drivers will slow down and concentrate on the coming curve.

    Dale said, "We really hope that will be another step we can take in increasing safety here."

    Go to our Facebook page to let us know what you think about the problems with the ramp and share this story with your friends.

    <div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/wsbtv/videos/10153412635960695/" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/wsbtv/videos/10153412635960695/"><p>ONE ramp, DOZENS of rollover crashes, THOUSANDS stuck in traffic. It&#039;s not just a coincidence. Jodie Fleischer, WSB-TV investigated and found that an &quot;optical illusion&quot; may be to blame:  http://2wsb.tv/1P6LyNo</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/wsbtv">WSB-TV</a> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/wsbtv/videos/10153412635960695/">Wednesday, April 29, 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>

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