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Atlanta Pedestrians: Use Caution When Walking

Thumbnail image for iStock_000016030629XSmall.jpgOver the past several years we have posted readers about the dangers that face us all when we cross a street in America. Recently, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sought information on pedestrian statistics for Georgia from our Department of Transportation. In its report we learned that in 2013, more deaths occurred on Georgia roads than in nearly two decades, despite a decline in pedestrian crashes. So, in other words, when vehicles and pedestrians collide, these crashes are proving more dangerous.

Not surprisingly, the Atlanta area was found to be the most dangerous for those on foot and a national study has placed Atlanta as the eighth most dangerous metro region for walkers. It used to be that taking a stroll was a relaxing and enjoyable way to get around. But these days, we must be extremely cautious when entering a roadway on foot. Those who are disabled in some way, are unable to walk on foot, or whose mobility depends on a motorized or hand-powered chair or have challenges with vision may be even more vulnerable.

In the Georgia Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, a joint project of the Georgia Department of Transportation, the GDOT Bike Ped Program and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, it was noted that excessive speed is one of the key reasons for pedestrian loss of life on Georgia’s roads and streets. Even what seems to be a small difference in speed, can be the determining factor in whether a person survives a pedestrian crash. In helping to make Georgia’s urban areas safer for those walking, lowering the rate of speed that is posted helps law enforcement to cite those speeding. The recommendation was made in the action plan to lower speed limits in urban areas and to amend relevant code sections in the Georgia Code to help keep speeds down and give the authorities the ability to ticket at a lower rate of speed. This report indicated that most local governments did not seem to know that in urban environments, the speed limit cannot be higher than 30 mph and there was some confusion about defining what is urban and what is not urban.

In addition to Georgia’s efforts to create safe crossings for pedestrians, several national organizations are involved in helping to ensure that our nation’s streets are safe for all pedestrians. These organizations are working to provide what are called “complete streets” that provide safe access for all using streets whether on foot, on bicycle or even those using public transport and then walking or riding a bicycle. This effort seeks to ensure that those responsible for planning streets and crossings, include in that planning, conscious efforts to ensure that all can cross safely. The effort also includes making street crossings clear for drivers so that those driving a vehicle are better able to ensure the safety of those crossing. These efforts work to balance both safety and convenience for all.

A pedestrian accident can lead to catastrophic injury or death. Those responsible for the injury or death of a pedestrian can often be held accountable in a civil action to recover monetary damages for those injuries or to help a family who has lost a loved one can recover monetary damages in what is called a wrongful death action. Scholle Law has guided and supported many injured victims and their families in this process. Please contact our law firm at any time for a free consultation.