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The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • Campaign season: where ads drench the airwaves like May weather drenches shirts. Accusations and proclamations fly and snippets of headlines, bills, and quotes quickly frame and cram a candidate’s point into a 30- or 60-second avail. With local races, people (and admittedly this writer) barely know the candidates and the commercials become a main “CliffsNotes” of what the candidate and their opponents believe. Of course, falling hook, line, and sinker for facts in campaign ads is akin to believing the artisanal chef in Taco Bell commercials. This is certainly true with one such claim from Georgia gubernatorial candidate Clay Tippins about Republican primary front-runner Casey Cagle. This is verbatim from a heavy-rotation radio ad: “Casey spent $250,000 of your tax money on private planes to beat the traffic, because Casey’s statewide, billion-dollar-a-year tax increase to fix Atlanta traffic … didn’t fix a thing.” This line has more holes than a tin can in Brian Kemp’s yard. First, does commissioning a private plane for this really make sense? Doing so may be wasteful, but flying to different corners of the state saves far more time than the delays traffic causes. Have you ever heard the saying, “As the crow flies”? And did Cagle really fly over only Atlanta (whose traffic the ad singles out) just to avoid the bad traffic? That’s a very short distance for a plane flight. The ad connects two potential truths — Cagle’s private, taxpayer-funded flights and the bad Atlanta traffic — and makes a likely false axiom. Classic move. The next part of the commercial really sinks low and is dangerous to the notion of an informed populace. The ad claims that the $1 billion transportation funding bill that Cagle championed did nothing to help traffic. This is simply untrue. The 2015 Transportation Funding Act increased gas, electric vehicle, heavy vehicle and hotel taxes to fund mostly a backlog of road maintenance. At the time, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said just that to the AJC. “We may be able to do other projects outside of maintenance … but not like rebuilding 285 or something huge like that.” Actually, I-285 is getting some love. The bill required GDOT to develop not just a plan for routine maintenance, but also a 10-year strategic plan to move Georgia forward. In the fall of 2016, McMurry exclusively shared highlights of this plan with WSB and the AJC. Parts of it include the Express Toll Lanes being added to I-85 up to Hamilton Mill Road and the Transform I-285/GA-400 project. There are longer term plans to build four additional toll lanes around some of I-285, redo the I-285/I-20 interchange in Fulton, add toll lanes to GA-400, widen I-16 and I-75 in central and south Georgia, build new lanes along I-85 up to the South Carolina line, and add more capacity to Spaghetti Junction in DeKalb. These are just the big projects. The plan is comprehensive and makes bolder moves than the voter-rejected 2012 TSPLOST plan. Traffic is getting worse in Atlanta, as the population grows. If the government doesn’t move forward with infrastructure and transit plans and if the private sector doesn’t change its behavior and policies, the jams grow worse, faster. Tippins’ correlating the worsening traffic to Cagle’s failed plan is typical political theater, but incredibly misleading. Infrastructure plans don’t eliminate current traffic; they build for the future growth. And we can’t forget the importance of routine maintenance and how cash-strapped GDOT has been in staying ahead on it. Decreasing fuel revenue has hampered GDOT’s budget, so the 2015 plan was a big shot in the arm. Without enough funding, road-paving, grass-cutting, pothole-filling, bridge-inspecting and the like do not happen on schedule. The roads are in bad enough shape — does defunding their maintenance even more help traffic? Most Georgians, especially Atlantans, agree that traffic is bad and that government should have at least some role in maintaining and building the roads. While there are many disagreements about how to do this, spreading false narratives about efficacy just keep Georgia standing still both literally and figuratively. Fixing our biggest traffic problems starts with making a move, not rebuffing all ideas.
  • If one commutes enough in Atlanta, they’re sure to get in a crash — I’ve been in my share. The feeling of confidence and safety behind the wheel completely vanishes when bumpers connect. Suddenly, involved parties are standing on the side of the road, eyeing damage, dialing phones, waiting, and running late. Happy Monday! Drivers in wrecks, however, can take some steps to improve the commute around them, shorten their wait times, make themselves safer, and ensure they satisfy their insurers. First, Georgia law 40-6-275 explicitly states that any drivers in a wreck on a public road must, “… remove said vehicles from the immediate confines of the roadway into a safe refuge on the shoulder, emergency lane, or median or to a place otherwise removed from the roadway…”. Big exceptions to this include injuries to the licensed driver of the car (though another licensed driver is permitted to safely move it) or if the vehicle is incapacitated. The “Steer and Clear” law is often ignored, but it’s vital. The WSB Traffic Team and I see many minor wrecks stay in travel lanes for far too long, causing big jams on interstates and side roads. Drivers that violate “Steer and Clear” can get a ticket. People do not need to wait for first responders’ arrival to try and move their cars. When calling the police about a wreck, be very explicit about the exact location and the types of vehicles involved. Almost every driver has a smartphone and a mapping app to find their location (might I suggest the WSB Triple Team Traffic Alerts App?). If you’re stuck in travel lanes or another dangerous spot, call the GDOT HERO Units at 511. If police and/or HEROs don’t respond quickly, keep calling. HERO trucks (or the new GDOT CHAMP vehicles in some outlying areas) heighten their response times when traffic is interrupted. And stay in the vehicle — do not get out to take pictures or make calls, until having moved safely out of the road. Also, turn on the hazard lights, to warn passing motorists of the problem. Law enforcement sometimes struggles in responding to non-injury fender-benders, especially those that are not blocking lanes. Crashes right on county or city lines can cause jurisdictional squabbles. Georgia State Patrol handles some agencies’ interstate wrecks, such as Atlanta, Cobb, and Gwinnett — but they often do not on weekends and nights. Add in personnel shortages, and response times can really disappoint sometimes. So know that calling the police is not always imperative in a wreck. State law 40-6-273 does say to call the police immediately when, “… in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or property damage to an apparent extent of $500.00 or more …”. If the wreck is more minor than that, law enforcement sources tell the AJC that drivers only must exchange license, insurance, and tag info. This is particularly true if drivers are not trying to claim any piece of the wreck on their insurance. If drivers want to claim a wreck on their insurance, AAA, which helps provide auto, life, and home insurance, has some advice. If those in the crash do not request the police at the scene, the parties should go together to the police department. “This helps the insurance company with its investigation and helps determine who is not at fault in the loss,” AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend told the AJC. Drivers can help their own cause by taking pictures at the crash scene. AAA’s policy is to request a police report for a wreck, but customers should submit their own on a claim, if they have one. Every driver should know what their insurance company requires, so they know how to handle crashes. Drivers knowing and following Georgia law will help traffic move better and keep them safer. Contacting 511 for wrecks on interstates and major highways clears lanes faster. Knowing the law and their respective insurance company’s rules will make the claim process easier. Put these things into practice and crash scenes become safer and less of a hassle than they normally are.
  • Traffic just keeps getting worse, and now with temperatures rising, the smog level is going to do the same. The commuting grind only continues in parking decks and black tops around Atlanta’s work campuses. As the economy is booming, employers are seeking our region to set up shop, but are faced with major commuting issues. Enter Georgia Commute Options, stage left. GCO has a new, employer-focused initiative called, “Clear the Deck,” their executive director, Malika Reed Wilkins, told the AJC. “We’re asking property managers and employers to have a fun week where employees do not drive, even if it’s just one day, whether it’s to telework, carpool — take a couple of cars off the road or in the parking deck, and to use that week to see if they can reduce parking consumption.” Long commutes are annoying, but having to make that grueling, upward spiral to find a spot that barely fits a vehicle and is oh-so-close to the lousy parking job in the adjacent space sends frustration levels through the sunroof. So GCO has seven worksite advisors that are meeting in person with employers to try to get them to change their organizations’ commuting habits the week of May 14-18. “We’re really trying to change travel behavior amongst motorists who drive by themselves everyday,” Wilkins said, also noting that this is one of several campaigns planned this year, including pushes to mass transit and biking. Rosalind Tucker manages GCO’s relationship with employers and has helped contact more than 250 of them in the area. The worksite advisors or consultants in her department have been meeting with employers and property managers for two months getting them ready for this campaign. GCO has developed a webpage for these different work sites to log their progress and have a competition of sorts. “Some of the employers have chosen to do internal competitions, where they are using their own budget to reward employees for not driving that week,” Tucker said. One of the big employers committing to “Clear the Deck” is the U.S. Forest Service, which has droves of employees, Tucker said. “For them, it’s really looking at how they can eliminate some of the parking issues and not have to seek out additional parking, which will cost them more money.” A GCO survey of commuters found that the length of a commute is a big determining factor in what job an employee chooses. So employers have multiple monetary incentives to think outside of the box on teleworking and commuting rewards programs to recruit good workers and keep them. However, much of the responsibility for improving the commute still falls on the drivers themselves. We talked to both GCO and a successful converted employee a month ago; the driver in that interview switched to MARTA out of necessity, following the I-85 bridge collapse. Then they stuck with it. But, as my column stated then, MARTA numbers are down not only after the bridge re-opening, but year-to-year from the beginning of 2017 to 2018. So not enough people stuck with their new commute option when they had been forced to it. Wilkins remains hopeful in the overall mission of GCO, especially through this “Clear the Deck” push. “The hope is that employees will love the new commute option, whether it’s transit, carpool, teleworking, etc. — and begin to take advantage of that and begin to start a new commute.” If you own a business or want to encourage your boss to try “Clear the Deck” next week, go to gacommuteoptions.com/clearthedeck. There certainly are many drawbacks to carpooling, mass transit, and even teleworking. But there are also many benefits. Having multiple commuting options is key to improving Atlanta traffic. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive airborne anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at doug.turnbull@coxinc.com
  • April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month — and rightfully so. Gov. Nathan Deal affirmed this week that he is definitely going to sign Georgia’s new hands-free driving bill, which limits phone usage to one swipe of the screen. That law goes into effect July 1st. We will talk more in the near future in this column about how this affects the driving experience. This month ends properly with a stellar partnership between Atlanta Motor Speedway and EndDD.org. End Distracted Driving has an obvious goal and a great spokesperson. AMS brought in Joel Feldman this week to speak to both Alpharetta High School and Locust Grove High School about the dangers of texting and driving. Feldman told the AJC he was a distracted driver for many years, until a distracted driver killed his daughter, 21-year-old Casey, in a crosswalk in 2009. Casey’s death moved Feldman to not just become an advocate against distracted driving, but to actually go to school and get a master’s degree in counseling. This degree has led Feldman to make his presentations discussion-based and not lectures. Feldman has done about 600 distracted driving presentations, he estimated, since her death. And he thinks having kids and parents in the same talk is vital. “Teens, of course, are inexperienced, so when they drive distracted, it adversely affects them more. Some studies suggest that teens’ serious crashes — 60% are related to distracted driving.” Feldman said that, maybe surprisingly, studies show that drivers 19-39 years old text behind the wheel more often than drivers aged 16-18. Feldman led an exercise at Alpharetta High School on Tuesday night that awkwardly opened eyes. “I asked the kids who were there, ‘Raise your hand if your mom or dad, who you’re sitting here with, drives distracted,’ and all the hands shot up. And the moms and dads looked a little embarrassed.” Feldman noted the mixed message parents send about safety. “When you’re a parent with your kids in the car, you’re not only putting them in danger, but you’re teaching them it’s okay to drive distracted.” Feldman shared the contradiction one girl pointed out to him. Her mom would always ask whose parents’ house she was going to for a sleepover, but would never ask who is driving her or if they drive distracted. Feldman, a Pennsylvanian, pointed out the irony of how much Southern people value respect, but still rampantly text and drive. “It’s disrespectful, if you think about it, to the people driving in your car and those on the road, not to look at the road all the time, but to look at your phone.” We curse others who text and drive and worry for our safety. But, Feldman asked, how can we properly drive defensively on the minefields that are our roads, when we do the same? At the end of Feldman’s Alpharetta High session, the parents and the kids all pledged that they would not drive distracted. Gearheads have had that same opportunity at AMS’ Motorama this weekend. EndDD.org has had a booth with literature, bumper stickers, reminders, and the pledge in place all weekend for the festival goers. AMS will have the EndDD.org back in the fall for more programs. “I wish there were more organizations around the nation, like the speedway, that would set these things up and organize it and make it easy for me to get into schools.” Feldman said that he tailored his message for the car-centric crowd at AMS this weekend similarly to his charge to parents. “People look up to you because of your experience, so when people see you using your phone, what message does that send to others, who are not as confident?” Finally, Feldman said the tenet of his campaign is caring for others. Whether one is abstaining from texting or imploring their friends and family members to do the same, caring is the core. Feldman suggested speaking to people in a more loving, non-confrontational manner and sharing apps that block incoming notifications on phones while driving. “We wouldn’t let our friends drive drunk; why would we let them drive distracted?” Much like Jenny Harty turned to activism after her daughter’s crash injuries, Feldman has turned his daughter’s tragedy into a life-saving remedy for thousands. Harty is also involved with EndDD.org and campaigned for Georgia’s hands-free bill. Take the anti-distracted driving pledge on EndDD.org. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive airborne anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at doug.turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • So much attention is paid to, well, the lack of attention drivers are paying behind the wheel and the havoc that carelessness causes. But what about the wheels themselves? Those deserve equal notice. Bridgestone Tires flew some other media and me out to test some of their new tires at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last week. We tested three different types of tires on four different courses to compare Bridgestone’s new lines for passenger, truck, and high performance tires in varying conditions. NFL Pro Bowlers DeAngelo Williams and Vince Wilfork (with his two Super Bowl rings) ran the same tests the day before. “I’m thinking, ‘It’s the car and not the tires’,” Williams said about ride performance, after driving both slicked-down sporty courses and rugged off-road terrain. He noted all the enhancements people make to vehicles’ bodies, engines, brakes, and shocks to make their rides better. After the test, he understood the importance of good rubber. “In this case, the car had to keep up with the tires.” Wilfork, after teasing Williams’ cautious driving, likened having good tires to having the proper football cleats for playing in rain and snow — they are essential. Wilfork’s many games with the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., give him authority on the issue. But what can normal drivers do in everyday conditions to maximize fuel mileage, decrease the chance for flats, and prolong the life of their tires? “The most important thing about tires is inflation pressure. The tire can’t function without the proper inflation pressure — they can’t give you the life that you want,” Keith Willcome, project engineer for Bridgestone Americas, explained. Automakers list the recommended PSI for a vehicle’s tires on the info sticker inside the driver’s side door. He said that the PSI on tires’ sidewalls is the maximum pressure for that tire, not the optimum one for the vehicle model. “Check them once a week — when you get gas is a good time to do that.” Keep a simple pressure gauge in the car at all times and out in the open as a reminder. Under-inflated tires can overheat and damage the side walls and they get lousy gas mileage. Willcome also said that while checking the pressure, drivers can also visually inspect tires for other signs of trouble. “Look at your tire and make sure you don’t see any cuts, scrapes, bulges, bumps, cracks forming.” Then there’s the penny trick, he said, which at the very least can show when a tire tread is legally on its last legs. “Basically you take a penny and stick Lincoln’s head upside down in the tread. If you see all of Lincoln’s head, then your tire is worn out.” A tread depth of less than 2/32 of an inch on normal vehicles is illegal and very dangerous to that car and others around it. Georgia law also says buses and tractor trailers must have 4/32 of an inch of tread depth. Proper tread depth allows tires to grip the road and handle rain and snow properly. Willcome said a driver should know best when tires are amiss. “If you’re going to have a tire problem, oftentimes that will be preceded by some kind of vibration.” Willcome continued, “You drive it every day, you know how it feels, so pay attention to how it feels. If something changes, you need to evaluate that — maybe take it to a mechanic, take it to your local tire professional. Let them take a look at it and make sure it’s good.” Regular alignments and rotations, which you can also tell you might need when the car is vibrating, help keep tire wear even and prolong tire duration. Having mechanics regularly up close with your tires means they are more likely to notice irregularities. Drivers themselves do not have to be experts. “Even if you don’t understand what’s going on, so you know when you need service — if there’s something going on with a tire, a belt, anything on your car, you just want to be aware.” Then Willcome really sold the point: “Just like distracted driving is bad, driving without awareness of your vehicle is not a good thing. Just pay attention and make sure your vehicle is up to snuff.”

News

  • Northgate High School and Canongate Elementary School in Coweta County were placed on lockdown after school officials said a person with a gun was seen nearby. According to Coweta County School, the school was notified by law enforcement officials that there was somebody walking down Fischer Road in Newnan with a gun Tuesday.  The road is adjacent to the school.  The schools were placed on Code Red Alert, but later downgraded to Code Yellow. Cannongate Elementary was also put on Code Yellow lockdown around 11:20 a.m. Both schools stayed in a Code Yellow lockdown as a precaution until they went home.   Dean Jackson with Coweta County Schools said parents were notified by email, text and letter.  Dean said that some parents came and checked their kids out of school.   The suspect has not yet been caught, officials said.  Northgate High School and Canongate Elementary School are continuing on heightened security at this time, as a precaution only, while law enforcement investigates an incident in northeastern Coweta. Northgate HS moved to a code yellow status at approximately 12:50 p.m.,— Coweta Schools (@CowetaSchools) May 22, 2018 NewsChopper 2 was over the scene. We're working to get updates for Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m. TRENDING STORIES: Patient says she woke up from surgery in hotel room with sandwich in hand 'American Idol' reveals its 2 finalists are dating before announcing winner 2 victims of cougar attack identified, friends grieving death of avid cyclist  
  • Rain and a few storms could put a damper on your Memorial Day plans. Stay weather aware this week with in-depth coverage from Kirk Mellish.
  • The NFL has passed a new rule for this season that says any player who initiates contact with his helmets is subject to ejection after an in-game video review that will be decided in New York. Al Riveron, the league's head of officiating, said a foul can be called regardless of where on the body — not just the head or neck area — that one player hits another with his helmet. The rule is not position-specific, so offensive players will be subject to the same criteria as defensive players. 'This is about eliminating unnecessary use of the helmet,' Riveron said Tuesday at the NFL spring meetings. If a player is ejected, Riveron and his staff in New York will use network camera angles to determine if the ejection is necessary. He promised that games will not become 'an ejection fest' every week. 'Immediately when I learn in New York that there's an ejection, I will ask the network to give me everything you've got,' Riveron said. 'I will take a look at it, I will rule on it and I will say yes, he's ejected, (or) no, leave him in the game. 'Play will stop, and we will expedite it. That's why we won't have the referee come over and we're not going to get the replay official involved,' Riveron said. 'The only way the replay official will be involved is he will call it and immediately tell the command center, we have an ejection on 'No. 22 White.'' Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay, the head of the league's competition committee, said the league had conference calls and a webinar with every coaching staff in the league last week to tell them to begin teaching a new, safer technique. McKay said the rule passed after the league looked at tens of thousands of examples on film to determine how to reduce concussions. Contact that's made by leading with the helmet no longer has a place in the NFL. 'We have always learned don't put your neck at risk and everything else,' he said. 'Now we've taken it a step further and said that we need to teach it out of the game and put a rule in and get it out of the game.' The rule applies to linemen, too. They can no longer lower their helmets to initiate contact. 'It's a culture change, and it's something that we take full responsibility' for, Riveron said. 'Prior to training camp we will have position-specific videos done by head coaches such as offensive line play, defensive line play, defensive backs, linebackers, special teams, runners. Why? Because this rule is all-inclusive for all players in all parts of the field.' ___ For more AP NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The Latest on primaries on Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas (all times local): 6:25 p.m. Hillary Clinton is urging Democrats in Georgia to support Stacey Abrams for governor. Clinton recorded a 60-second endorsement used by the Abrams campaign in direct phone calls to Georgia voters. Tuesday's primary ballot election has Abrams facing fellow Atlanta Democrat Stacey Evans. Clinton notes Abrams was the first black woman to serve as House Democratic leader in the Georgia legislature. Clinton also says Abrams has 'a proven track record' of supporting public schools, gun safety, voting rights and Medicaid expansion. A victory in the Democratic primary and in the November election would make Abrams the first black woman governor in the U.S. Clinton's message also acknowledges the potential confusion caused by two Democratic rivals with the same first name. Twice, Clinton urges voters to support 'Abrams with an 'A.'' __ 6 p.m. Polls in eastern Kentucky have closed on another multi-state primary day ahead of the November midterms. Arkansas and Georgia also are holding primaries. Texas has runoffs after an initial round of voting in March. Georgia Democrats are set to nominate a woman for governor for the first time in state history. Republicans in the state are likely going to have a runoff that some in the party fear could be a harmful turn to the right. Kentucky voters in one county could choose a gay man to run against the clerk who denied him a same-sex marriage license. Texas has Democratic runoffs in three districts that will be key to determining House control in the new Congress. __ 6 a.m. Four states are casting ballots Tuesday as the 2018 midterm elections take shape. Voters in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky hold primaries, while Texans settle several primary runoffs after their first round of voting in March. Texans will settle an all-female congressional runoff between liberal activist Laura Moser and Houston attorney Lizzie Fletcher in a Houston-area House race that has become a proxy for the Democratic Party's battle over style and substance. In Georgia, Democrats will tap either Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans as the state's first female nominee for governor from either major party. Georgia's Republican candidates for governor have engaged in a sprint to the right on everything from immigration to bear-hugging Trump.
  • More than 70 percent of all credit card transactions are now being processed out of metro Atlanta and that means security is a top priority. Channel 2 Anchor Craig Lucie went to Mercedes-Benz stadium for the FinTech South event this week, where he learned local companies are employing thousands here in Georgia and around the world. “We dominate this industry globally,” said Larry Williams. Larry Williams is the president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia or TAG. He organized the FinTech South event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium because he says financial technology has become one of the most important industries in Georgia. “Seventy percent of all credit card transaction are processed here in Georgia,” Williams said. Cyber companies from all over the world are in town, but many of them are based in the metro  like Trust Stamp. They’re a startup from the Atlanta Tech Village, and they’re using artificial intelligence to send secure emails to avoid massive security breaches. “Instead of hitting the send button, you will hit a send secure button and our technology will prompt you to do a facial scan and once we verify the email, it will be encrypted and sent to the recipient,” said Alex Valdes of Trust Stamp. TRENDING STORIES: Medical examiner releases CDC researcher's cause of death Doctor who made music videos in operating room facing several malpractice lawsuits Kayaker bitten by rattlesnake, cousin clarifies story; victim's condition upgraded These numbers give you an idea as to why they are having the event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Georgia Fintech companies are employing more than 37,000 people in our state, 130,000 globally, and they are handling more than 128 billion transactions per year. One of them is Midtown Atlanta-based Payscape. “We employ several hundred people. We process billions worth of transactions, and we have seen an ecosystem revolve from what used to be a cottage industry around us,” said Jeremy Wing who is the CEO of Payscape. Wing says the ideas coming out of FinTech South event are changing the way we pay. “Credits cards will be the things that go away, and it will all be built into your phone and be Uber-like,” said Wing.
  • A military veteran was dismayed to be turned away from a Six Flags Over Georgia ride the other day, but the park cites safety precautions. “We apologize to Mr. Jones for any inconvenience; however, to ensure safety, guests with certain disabilities are restricted from riding certain rides and attractions,” a statement from Six Flags said. “Our accessibility policy includes ride safety guidelines and the requirements of the federal American Disabilities Act.” In 2010, USMC Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Johnny “Joey” Jones worked as a bomb technician while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs. He now uses prosthetic limbs. >> Read more trending news  A lifelong fan of amusement parks, he says he’s been able to enjoy attractions at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World even after his injury. “I do not try to ride a ride where your legs dangle,” he said. “I’ve only gone on rides where I knew the safety equipment could function. If there is a safe way to ride it, I’m on it.” He and his son had boarded the Mind Bender roller coaster at Six Flags in Austell, Georgia, when an attendant said he had to exit the ride. “I got in, the lap thing came down. I was fixed in. Once they saw my legs they asked me to get off,” Jones said. “(The attendant) said, ‘You’ve got to have two real legs to ride.’” According to Six Flags’ safety policy, “Each rider must maintain an upright seated position with their head against the headrest and back against the seat back during the duration of the ride and their arms, hands, legs, and feet inside the ride vehicle at all times,” Six Flags’ safety policy states. “Guests must possess at least one (1) fully functioning arm and two (2) fully functional legs,” the policy posted on the Six Flags site reads. It goes on to say that riders “must have upper body control, a strong grasp, and must be restrained by a lap bar and notes that “exceptionally large or tall people may not be able to ride.” The Mind Bender is a fast-moving attraction where the riders go upside down at times, according to the park ride’s description. “Guests should be prepared to brace for strong front-to-back, top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top forces as well as mild side-to side forces,” the safety guidelines say. “The Mind Bender is very difficult to evacuate due to the high, steep, narrow catwalks.” In July 2011, The Associated Press reported that a U.S. Army veteran who’d lost his legs while deployed in Iraq was killed after he was thrown from a roller coaster in upstate New York. The family of Sgt. James Hackemer settled for “a seven-figure amount,” investigators having determined that “park workers didn't follow rules posted at the ride's entrance, which require that riders have both legs.” Jones said he had not heard directly from Six Flags since posting messages about his experience on social media. “I’m not trying to wage war against Six Flags,” said Jones, who’d like the opportunity to meet with a park representative. “There are thousands and thousands of us who are in this situation because of our service to our country. We’re just trying to reclaim a sense of normalcy.” He also stressed that he isn’t disparaging the Six Flags attendant who turned him away, noting the employee was following guidelines. His experience at other parks has been pleasant, with employees going out of their way to accommodate him. “If I go to Disney they’ll assign someone to walk with me to the front of the line,” he said. “They go from the angle of, ‘How can we get this guy on the ride?’ Within two seconds of walking into Universal someone walked up and said, ‘Would you like to sign up for special services?’” At other area locations, including the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, “they roll out sort of a red carpet.” “At Six Flags I’m a burden,” Jones said. “At the other places it’s an opportunity to shine.”