A while back we posted readers on a tragic Cobb County pedestrian death case that made the national news. Readers will likely recall the sorrowful interviews with the woman convicted of vehicular homicide in the case. She wasn’t driving, she was walking. But after getting off at the bus stop across from her apartment building with her children, and to avoid walking a significant distance to a cross walk after a long day, she crossed in the middle of the street. Her four-year-old son was hit by a passing car and was killed. In my practice as a pedestrian injury lawyer, I had never seen a case quite like it, nor had many in the Atlanta area or across the county.
The story we did not hear much about had to do with the driver of the vehicle that hit the child. The driver did not stop after hitting the child and he pled guilty to hit-and-run in the case, admitted had been drinking earlier that day and was visually impaired. He also had a record of prior hit-and-run convictions, one on the very road on which he struck the little boy.
We have posted readers in the past about the efforts being made to make streets safer for pedestrians. But a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution report reveals that we aren’t making much progress on this effort in the Atlanta area. And with so much distracted driving and congested suburbs with faster drivers, it seems inevitable that more pedestrians will be injured or killed.
The report notes that recent information provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) reveals that our roads are not getting safer for pedestrians. In fact, the reverse is true. For example, the GDOT has issued statistics that 2012 fatalities are likely to exceed those of the prior year. And unfortunately, Georgia pedestrian deaths are above the national average.
Some communities have voter-approved support through specific taxes for these efforts. Gwinnett County, one of the counties in which I have a law office, has over $30 million in funds that will be used for this purpose, but officials say more is needed.
Communities need funding to deal with this issue, as pedestrian safety requires budgeted allocations. Some enhancements that make walking on our streets safer include improvements at busy intersections that allow pedestrians to get across with the use of traffic lights that change once a button is pushed and audible signals that warn of light changes.
Until there is more funding for pedestrian safety, and more improvements are made, it is likely that we will see more injury and death on our roads. I would suggest that when we driver we need to do everything we can to stay at the speed limit, avoid distracted driving and keep our eyes open for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle are located throughout the Atlanta metro area. If you or someone you know has been injured as a pedestrian or on a bicycle, please feel free to contact my Atlanta pedestrian injury law practice at any time. I provide case evaluations at no charge.