A main traffic artery in the metropolitan Atlanta area, the Georgia 400, has been plagued with congestion for years. Hoping to ease the commutes of thousands of area residents, officials decided to open the southbound emergency shoulder to cars during the morning rush hour. During the first morning of implementation, however, drivers experienced frustration, confusion and one high-profile crash and arrest.

During the morning rush, Larry Roberts, a former San Francisco 49ers defensive end from 1986 to 1993, veered off the road and crashed into a guard rail. When Sandy Springs police officers arrived on scene, they found that Roberts was wanted for driving with a suspended license and failure to appear in court. He had a warrant out for his arrest and was taken into custody.

For other commuters who managed to stay on the road, the commute seemed even worse than usual and several drivers expressed their frustration with the plan.

"Just one more lane for people to drive stupid in," said one to WSBTV.

"It increased the commute by 25 minutes," complained another.

It is likely that the commute was made worse due to drivers' lack of familiarity with the system. For instance, commuters weren't sure how to handle merging and exiting traffic, where, in one place, the shoulder lane ends and drivers are supposed to move back over to the left. At one point during the morning, a road crew was dispatched to place barrels so drivers would know where to go.

In the event that emergency responders need to use the freeway during morning rush hour, drivers in the left lane are expected to move over to the left and drivers in the right lane over to the right side of the road, parting the middle to allow for the easy passing of emergency vehicles.

The speed limit in the shoulder lane is 45 MPH, much lower than the 65 MPH in the other lanes.

GDOT is optimistic that the system will improve commute times once drivers become used to it. If it makes a difference, officials will consider opening the shoulder to northbound traffic during the evening rush.