The concern about the dangers of walking — what used to be a relatively safe activity in America — is the subject of a recent report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Over the past few years, we have shared statistics on the alarming increase in pedestrian accidents that include serious injury and fatality. The increase in pedestrian accidents is said to be about 15% in only the past decade. The study and report not only quantifies this dangerous trend and frightening increase in these statistics, but includes recommendations on steps governmental entities can take to turn this around.
The report issued by the GHSA was funded by a private insurance carrier. The research looks at the problem and potential solutions including engineering and education. Not only is the effort intended to look at how walking can be made safer, it recognizes the fact that for many, walking is a lifestyle issue. The elderly may need to walk, rather than drive. As an Atlanta-area pedestrian accident lawyer, I know that those who cannot afford a car or prefer not to have one, should feel safe when they travel by foot. Going out on a simple errand in your neighborhood should not cause fear and dread. Pedestrians want to be assured that they aren’t in unnecessary danger of being struck by a motor vehicle which can lead to serious injury and fatality.
The pedestrian accident statistics are revealing. Men are far more likely than women to be struck and killed by a motor vehicle. And the average age of victims is a little over 45 years of age. Unfortunately, those who come to assist vehicles on our roadways are vulnerable to being struck. Roadside assistance, whether law enforcement or otherwise, run a risk of being hit. Georgia’s Move Over law helps with this problem. If they can do so safely, drivers must move over one lane when they see emergency roadside activity. If that is not possible, they must slow to below the speed limit and stop if necessary.
In this new environment of distracted drivers who are not focusing on their surroundings, there is an increased likelihood that a driver will not see a pedestrian. Other factors include driving under the influence and speed. Those roads and intersections that have a history of fatal pedestrian accidents, should be addressed and corrected. The report urges that local entities be provided the power to lower speed limits and set specific speed zones for areas that have a history of pedestrian danger. And this distraction cuts both ways, those on foot must pay attention to their surroundings while walking, since texting-while-walking is a hazard. Alcohol impairment is also an issue for pedestrians. The report offers a suggestion to increase enforcement in locations where alcohol consumption is more likely to occur.
We know that something must be done and Scholle Law seeks to be a part of the solution by helping to educate drivers and pedestrians of the ways to avoid these tragic accidents. Every life saved and every injury avoided is worth the effort. Look carefully before walking and do not expect that someone will stop for you. Walk defensively and safely and speak to your local governments about what can be done to make your community safer.
If you need guidance or help after a pedestrian accident, you are welcome to contact our offices. Scholle Law will evaluate your situation at no cost to you.