Thousands of Masters patrons bring less car crashes, data shows
While almost 40,000 patrons travel to Augusta annually for the Masters Tournament, data shows the city is on top of traffic control; less accidents occurring during Masters weekend than other weekends in April.
On a normal day, Washington Road, the main road used to get to Augusta National, typically services about 50,000 cars in a 24-hour period, according to John Ussery, assistant director of the City of Augusta Traffic Engineering Division.
During Masters week, that number jumps to 80,000 cars per day, according to Ussery.
"We see a good increase during Masters week," Ussery said. "You'll see an extra 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day during Masters week."
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During the weekend of The Masters in 2022, April 7-10, there were 117 collisions, with no fatalities and 30 injuries, according to city records.
However, during the same time span on another April weekend, April 21-24, there were 123 collisions with 58 injuries, according to records.
While locals that have to drive down Washington Road during Masters week may be surprised given the congestion, Ussery said those numbers reflect the city's heightened safety during the tournament.
"We're a lot more hands on with traffic than we normally are," Ussery said. "We're monitoring it much closer than we normally do. We have a whole room full of people during Masters week. We have signal technicians, engineers and some representatives from the state. We're all watching traffic very closely to make sure everybody can get to and from where they want to go."
During a normal week, Ussery explained traffic systems are mostly automated.
"We do occasionally look in on it, but we're not watching it every minute of every day," he said. "During Masters week, it's a little different. Especially the routes that lead to and from the golf course, we're very observant about what's going on all day long, from early in the morning until late at night."
There are a number of other reasons Masters week is not as dangerous as other weeks, according to Ussery.
"I think the reason there are less accidents is because almost everyone is trying to get to one spot, where during a normal work week, people work all over the place," he said. "Just about all the traffic wants to go to the Augusta National Golf Course, so we can focus heavily on that."
Increased attention from law enforcement is another contributing factor, according to Ussery.
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"There are a lot of deputies in the street that aren't normally out there," he said. "Every major intersection has a deputy unit along those routes in the morning and in the afternoon, so people tend to behave a little better when there's an officer standing there."
During the peak hours, the traffic division also closes lanes to keep drivers safe amidst the chaos.
"During the peak periods, in the morning in the afternoon, we will close a lot of the left turn lanes to try to expedite traffic flow," Ussery said. "Most people that get in an accident are turning left across traffic, so when we close all of those left turn lanes, to force people to go straight, you eliminate the accidents that would occur because of conflict."
Traffic center employees work around the clock to keep patrons safe
While traffic center employees get little applause for their part in keeping traveling patrons and locals safe during The Masters, they are a large part of keeping the city safe during the tournament.
"On a normal day, the traffic center has one person, sometimes two, monitoring the traffic around Richmond County," Ussery said. "During Masters week, there are usually eight to 10 people in there every day from various agencies."
In addition to Richmond County Sheriff's Office and the Augusta Traffic Division, Ussery said engineers from the Georgia Department of Transportation and other consultants join to help with message boards, cones and other necessities.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Car crashes down during Masters weekend, officials explain