Recently, I was driving in Atlanta and noticed a young driver with a cell phone in hand apparently texting. This driver barely looked up at a crosswalk … what if there had been a pedestrian in that crosswalk? As a Gwinnett County injury attorney, I have represented many victims of accidents that could have been avoided, but were the result of careless or negligent behavior or actions.
In the past decade nearly 50,000 people were killed as pedestrians in our country. In the same time period, 688,000 pedestrians were injured in America while walking on our roads. That amounts to one person being hit by a car or truck every 7 minutes.
Unfortunately, the battle for our safety as pedestrians in getting more complicated. The organization Transportation for America reports that the focus for transportation agencies is speeding, not pedestrian safety. And as we are more distracted while we drive, doing things like talking on the phone and texting which is prohibited by law in many states, pedestrians are more vulnerable to being catastrophically injured by a vehicle.
Georgia bans texting while driving, but allows the use of cell phones. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 40-6-241.2 prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle on any public road or highway “while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.” Reading a text is prohibited, which is a clear statement that our lawmakers want us to keep our eyes on the road.
At least there is a little good news for Georgia with regard to pedestrian safety. Our state did not make the top ten most dangerous states in the country for pedestrian deaths. Cities in Florida, Texas and Arizona were in the top ten.
In the recent past, the Atlanta area has seen tragic cases involving the most vulnerable pedestrians, the elderly and children. Last summer, a Cobb County mother was tried for the pedestrian death of one of her children.
Transportation for America says that these segments, as well as “racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented” as vulnerable while walking on our streets. As noted by the organization, “the majority of these deaths … occurred along “arterial” roadways that were dangerous by design, streets engineered for speeding traffic with little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles.”
As Georgians get out and move when the weather improves, both drivers and pedestrians must use caution to avoid one another. We hope that communities encourage getting out in the fresh air and moving for our health. We also appreciate efforts to make roads safer for all who use them.
If you have any questions about an accident or injury you have suffered, the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle is here to help. Please contact my law firm to arrange for a free consultation with me on matters ranging from truck accidents, motorcycle crashes, pedestrian accidents, wrongful death and estate administration. We have offices throughout the Atlanta area in Duluth, Buckhead, the Perimeter and Decatur. for your convenience.