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New Traffic Policies for Georgia and the Entire U.S.

If the past month has had one consistent theme, it’s that change is coming to our roads. And not just here in Gwinnett County, or Greater Atlanta, or even in the entire state of Georgia. Certainly we’ve had our fair share of debate about legislation recently approved in Georgia. For example, the law the State Senate recently passed that bans texting while driving. Or the one that requires pickup truck drivers to wear seatbelts, just like regular automobile drivers (incidentally, Georgia is one of the few U.S. states that still have not adopted this law).

As a dedicated Georgia motor vehicle accident lawyer, by the way, I wholeheartedly approve of both of these laws. These represent great leaps and bounds in Georgia’s commitment to the safety of its motorists, passengers and pedestrians, and I am optimistic that they will help to significantly reduce the incidence of traffic fatalities in our state. But there is an even bigger change coming up, one that affects not only Georgia but also the entire United States. Not only local municipalities or metropolitan urban areas, but potentially every highway in the country. I speak, of course, of the Obama Administration’s new bicycle policy, championed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Associated Press sums up the controversy in this article. LaHood and the Department of Transportation have strongly asserted that individual states and the country as a whole need to treat “walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.” That means more bike lanes and more pedestrian access on bridges, highways and other thoroughfares.

Bicyclists are naturally overjoyed, and commercial truckers are naturally irked. The conflict is ugly, understandable and probably far from over. That said, having worked as a trucking accident attorney for some time now, I would argue that these policies will ultimately be a blessing on truckers as well as bikers and pedestrians. By requiring truck drivers to adapt and adhere to a more strict set of policies regarding these “alternative” modes of transportation, we will, in theory, ultimately cut back on traffic fatalities.

Which, yes, include cyclists and pedestrians, especially considering how much more vulnerable they are to death as the result of a motor vehicle accident, as opposed to the average motorist. No sane trucker actually wants to kill someone, so although this appears a slight to their convenience and “the 80 percent of freight that moves by truck,” as Shopfloor, the National Association of Manufacturers’ official blog, puts it.

Now, this is officially a policy, not a law, so technically this is not mandatory by law. However, it does mean that the federal government is taking a definite position on transportation priorities, and that will affect our state as well as interstate highways.

My point? Commercial truckers, and indeed all motorists (who, not being an industry, don’t have as strong of a lobby), might want to consider the rights of bicyclists and pedestrians to get around as they see fit. This might represent an inconvenience to many at first, but how inconvenient is the knowledge that you have killed someone, accidentally or not? And how inconvenient is a lawsuit against to that end – for anyone?

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a cyclist or pedestrian by a commercial trucker or motorist, we at The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, PC are here to help. As seasoned automobile, truck, catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death accident attorneys, we can fight for you to win the compensation you are entitled to. Please contact us today to learn what your options are.