Can We Reduce Atlanta Pedestrian-Vehicle Collision Accidents?

A year ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) published a three-part report prompted by a two-year spike in deaths caused by pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents.

The AJC said 182 people had died in pedestrian-vehicle collisions in 2013, a record high dating to 1987 and the second straight year of rising pedestrian accident fatalities in the state. At the time of the report, 67 pedestrians had been killed in 2014, a 12 percent increase from the same period in 2013.

Many of the deaths happened in metro Atlanta, where multi-lane roads often lack sidewalks and designated crosswalks for pedestrians to cross safely. Wide streets and highways pose a particular hazard for the elderly who require additional time to cross the road.

As recently as February, Atlanta saw two pedestrian deaths in a single week on I-285 in Sandy Springs.

On a wider scope, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes in 2013. The 176 pedestrian accident deaths in Georgia in 2013 represented approximately 15 percent of the total traffic fatalities in the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says (CDC) elderly adults and children are most likely to be injured or killed in pedestrian accidents. People who were 65 or older accounted for 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths and an estimated nine percent of all pedestrians injured in 2012, the CDC says. Over one in five children killed in traffic accidents in 2012 were pedestrians.

The NHTSA says alcohol involvement, for both the driver and/or the pedestrian, was reported in 49 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2013. About 34 percent of pedestrians and about 15 percent of drivers had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 (exceeding the legal limit) or more in 2013.

Of pedestrians killed in 2013 one-fifth were hit by hit-and-run drivers, the NHTSA says.

The NHTSA and the CDC both provide tips for avoiding pedestrian-vehicle accidents.

Motorists should:

  • Look for pedestrians. People on foot may not be where they should be. In poor lighting, such as at dusk, dawn, nighttime or in poor weather, they may be hard to see.
  • Stop for pedestrians. Be ready to stop as you approach intersections, but always yield for a person crossing the street or in the street.
  • Never pass cars stopped at intersections. The car could be stopped for a pedestrian who you do not see.
  • Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, particularly in neighborhoods and near schools, day care centers, parks and playgrounds.

Pedestrians should:

  • Stay out of the street. Walk on a sidewalk when available or the shoulder of the road.
  • Face traffic. Walk toward oncoming traffic (the left-hand side of the street). Be alert and not distracted by your phone, iPod or other music, or anything that keeps you from watching where you and others are going.
  • Cross at crosswalks. Use a designated crosswalk to cross the street when available, or at least cross at an intersection. This is where drivers expect pedestrians. If there is no intersection or crosswalk, try to cross in a highly visible or well-lit area.
  • Show up. Brightly colored clothes or a reflective vest will help drivers see you. Avoid dark clothing at night. Carry a flashlight at night.

Drivers and pedestrians who are going to be on or along roadways should avoid alcohol, which impairs coordination and judgment.

A pedestrian who has been hurt in an accident may be eligible to obtain compensation from a careless or negligent driver who was responsible for their injuries and other losses. The surviving family members of a pedestrian killed in a collision may also seek compensation from an at-fault driver through a wrongful death lawsuit.

The personal injury lawyers of The Millar Law Firm can help you after a pedestrian-vehicle collision in metro Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia. We have the experience and dedication needed to ensure you obtain compensation you are due. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.