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Tips for Walking, Driving and Identifying Georgia’s Pedestrian Crash Hotspots

The risk of serious injury or death is high in pedestrian accidents. Georgia is often among the top states for the number of reported fatal pedestrian crashes per year.

There are many reasons why the state is a hotbed for car vs. pedestrian accidents. Researchers point to population growth, lack of sidewalk maintenance and confusion over the rules of the road among other crash factors.

Pedestrian crashes are frequently complicated for injured victims seeking compensation. This is why it’s important to consult with a Georgia pedestrian accident attorney who understands how the law applies to specific cases.

The scope of the problem

Recent state studies have identified common pedestrian crash patterns and contributing factors. One of the most in-depth studies resulted in the Georgia Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, a document that guides statewide development. The “PEDS” study pinpoints the most dangerous places in Georgia for people getting around on foot.

The counties with the highest fatal pedestrian accident rates are some of Georgia’s most populated. Counties with high crash counts include:

  • Bibb
  • Clayton
  • Muscogee
  • DeKalb
  • Fulton

Infrastructure improvements to promote pedestrian safety have been installed and more are planned. Education and awareness campaigns are being organized. But change is slow. The number of people hit by cars remains high.

While there is still much work to be done, there are things that individual drivers and pedestrians can do to reduce the risk of accidents.

How to identify pedestrian crash hotspots

The PEDS study uncovered important information about what makes a roadway dangerous for pedestrians. Researchers at the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) studied years of pedestrian crashes involving cars, trucks and motorcycles. They found that pedestrian crash locations frequently are:

  • State-owned, arterial roads
  • Car-oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods with lots of destinations
  • Posted speed limits of 40 mph or faster
  • Five or more lanes of traffic
  • Too few crosswalks: Georgia’s riskiest roadways have marked crosswalks that are more than 1,000 feet apart, far fewer than the recommended crosswalk every 300-600 feet in high-traffic areas.

These common conditions that signal a higher risk of pedestrian accidents can often be found in urbanized areas. Some city roadways pose more danger to pedestrians than others. According to GDOT, the cities with the most crashes and most severe injuries include:

  • Albany
  • Atlanta
  • Brookhaven
  • East Point
  • Marietta
  • Rome
  • Sandy Springs
  • Savannah
  • Smyrna
  • Valdosta

Walkers be wary

Georgia’s PEDS action plan identifies 75 miles (28 segments) of pavement that pose a heightened danger to pedestrians.

For the most part, the streets identified by GDOT have four to eight lanes of travel (plus turn or slip lanes), high speed limits, few to no raised medians and more than 2,000 feet between crosswalks.

Georgia’s most dangerous roadways for pedestrians include:

  • GA-279, Old National Highway, Fulton County
  • US-19 and GA-3, Tara Boulevard, Clayton County
  • GA-13, Buford Highway, Fulton/DeKalb counties
  • Norcross-Tucker Road, Gwinnett County
  • GA-154, Memorial Drive, DeKalb County
  • US-129 and US-41, Gray Highway, Bibb County
  • GA-204, Abercrombie Street, Chatham County
  • GA-280, South Cobb, Cobb County

Pedestrian safety tips

To protect yourself while out walking, GDOT and safety advocates like Ride Safe Georgia recommend that you:

  • Keep your head up. Don’t get distracted by your cell phone. Keeping your eyes on the road isn’t just good advice for motorists; it’s a responsibility of pedestrians as well.
  • Cross right. When crossing the road, do so at crosswalks, if available, and street corners.
  • Look. Before stepping into the road, look both ways — twice — then cross.
  • Be seen. Increase nighttime visibility by wearing reflective or light-colored clothing and carrying a flashlight.
  • Right on red. Watch out for cars making right turns at red lights.
  • Walk this way. Always use sidewalks when available. When walking in the street, walk facing traffic.

Driver safety tips

Pedestrians can be difficult to spot, especially at night. Tips drivers can use to increase pedestrian safety include:

  • Eyes on the road. Don’t drive distracted. Keep your focus on the road instead of having your attention diverted by texting, eating, drinking, reaching or changing car settings.
  • Give them a brake. Even if you think you have the right of way, it’s a good idea to stop for pedestrians.
  • Forget the squeeze. It is illegal to “squeeze by,” drive around or cut off a pedestrian in a crosswalk, even if there’s room.
  • No passing. If a driver is stopped to let a pedestrian cross, it is illegal to pass that vehicle. You must wait for traffic to start moving again.
  • Slow down. If conditions make it hard to see, drive slowly and be extra watchful for pedestrians.

Georgia pedestrian laws

In most situations, cars must yield to pedestrians who are already in a crosswalk. Likewise, if a pedestrian is crossing where there are no crosswalks, and they entered the roadway at a safe time, vehicles must give them the right of way.

Georgia’s crosswalk law is informally known as “Stop and Stay.” It says that when there is a person in a crosswalk, or approaching a crosswalk, a motorist must stop and stay stopped until the person is safely out of the way. Vehicles don’t necessarily have to wait for someone to cross an entire street, however, to get going again. Once a pedestrian has crossed all the lanes of traffic flowing in the same direction as the motorist is traveling, they can continue driving.

If you were hit in a crosswalk, or in any other scenario, it is a good idea to consult a pedestrian accident lawyer to protect your rights.

Pedestrian rights

If you or a loved one have been hit by a car while walking in Georgia, it may seem obvious that the driver was at fault and should pay for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages, the legal term for financial compensation for injury-related expenses. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple. At-fault drivers often do not want to accept responsibility for causing a serious accident and insurance companies are often looking for a reason to reduce or reject an injury claim.

For thousands of Georgia pedestrian accident victims and their families, filing an insurance claim or even a civil lawsuit is the only way to get money for wreck-related medical bills, physical therapy, lost wages and other damages. An experienced attorney knows the law and can negotiate for maximum compensation.

Contact a local Georgia pedestrian accident lawyer for a free case review. An attorney can explain how the law applies to your specific situation, as well as any applicable claim requirements and statute of limitations, which are deadlines for taking legal action. A lawyer can also help you calculate exactly how much compensation you require to make and maintain a full recovery. Talk to an attorney in your area today.

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