Crosswalks: A Deadly Phenomenon

Crosswalks: A Deadly Phenomenon

As many Georgians can proudly tell you, epic novel “Gone with the Wind” vividly recounts Southern plantation life in Clayton and Fulton counties during the 1860s. Not quite as many people know that the book’s author, Margaret Mitchell, died at the age of 48 while crossing Peachtree Street at 13th Street in Atlanta. The speeding driver who hit her was allegedly drunk and was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Since Mitchell was killed in 1949, the conflict between pedestrians and traffic has only gotten worse. There are more cars, more people, and more distractions. Pedestrian fatalities have been steadily increasing. Examining data from 2005 to 2014 reveals that there were over 46,000 pedestrian deaths nationwide. The numbers for 2014 average out to an alarming rate of 13 people being hit by a vehicle and killed every day. During those nine years, there were 1,555 pedestrian deaths here, making Georgia the tenth most dangerous state for pedestrians. Last year saw a statewide 35-year high of 234 people killed while walking.

People are injured or killed walking on the shoulder, in the median, at intersections, even on the sidewalk! Crosswalks are some of the most deadly places for pedestrians, and we’ve all been in the position of watching drivers zoom by as we attempt to navigate a roadway. Pedestrians who are attempting to cross in a marked path have the right of way once their foot is on the painted stripe. That action is sufficient under the law for placing the person in the crosswalk. At that point, drivers in BOTH DIRECTIONS are supposed to stop until the person has left the stripe on the other side of the street.

Traffic is not expected to stop if it is not obvious that a person is trying to cross. Cars do not have to predict that someone hanging back on the curb might suddenly come into the road. Conversely, pedestrians have to give approaching vehicles some time to stop before entering a crosswalk. They are not supposed to step out so abruptly into traffic that drivers can’t stop.

Concerns over public safety and driver who ignore the rights of those who walk prompted the formation of Atlanta-area advocacy group Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS). Among other activities, PEDS is partnering with the Georgia Department of Transportation to discuss relevant issues in May at the second annual Georgia Walks Summit. Held last year in Macon and this year in Augusta, the summit focuses on making the state more walkable. Topics include sidewalk repair, road conditions, urban planning, walking audits, transportation funding, and Safe Routes to School.

Whether you are a resident or a visitor, if you have been injured in a pedestrian accident or if you are the survivor of someone who was killed by a negligent driver, the pedestrian accident attorneys at the Mann Law Firm can help. To review your circumstances and discuss available legal options, call us at (478) 742-3381 or fill out our online form. In addition to cases in Macon, we are prepared to handle claims on behalf of clients in Dublin, Warner Robins, Milledgeville and other Georgia communities. We would like to meet with you to talk about your case and we are proud to offer free initial consultations.