ATLANTA -- After a week of criticism over how he handled Tuesday's icy snowstorm and the resulting traffic jams, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed now has to defend a trip he made to The Weather Channel's studios.
While thousands were stuck in gridlocked traffic for hours, Reed, accompanied by police officers, used the emergency lanes on Interstate 75 to get to an interview at The Weather Channel's suburban Atlanta studios to discuss the severity of the storm.
The interview took place during the thick of the storm, while emergency responders were trying to help stranded drivers.
Asked about the incident Friday, Reed said he made the drive to the interview because he thought it was important that residents hear from him directly about the need to stay off the roads.
"People turn to The Weather Channel, so it was important for me to say 'stay off of the road,' not hearing the report of me saying that, but to have the leader of the city saying 'the most important thing that you can do is stay off the road,' " he said.
"It gave me an amplified ability to help people stay safe, and I think that's one of the reasons we had zero fatalities in the city of Atlanta."
The action has sparked anger from motorists who tried to stay warm in their cars or abandoned them to seek shelter in businesses along I-75 and other freeways around metro Atlanta.
Carlos Campos, the mayor's communication director, said he did not believe there was ever a time when the trip interfered with emergency response units.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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