According to data from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 253 pedestrian fatalities in 2017. The following year, 261 fatalities were reported. Over the last 5 years, pedestrian deaths in Georgia have increased by 60 percent.
The Governor’s Office stated:
“The safety and accessibility of pedestrian walkways are critical issues throughout the state and in urban areas.”
Pedestrians aged 65 and older represent 20 percent of those fatalities, and children under the age of 15 make up 25 percent.
Recent Macon pedestrian fatalities
By the end of 2019, there had been 11 deaths and 88 collisions in Macon alone.
So far in 2020, there have been 73 total pedestrian crashes. Nine were fatal and at least 2 happened on Pio Nono Ave. One of these occurred on October 25th, when Johnny Arnold Sr, 64, was crossing the road and hit by a car.
Mary Glass, who lived in the same building as Arnold and knew him for 7 years, told reporters that he had trouble walking.
“That man didn’t deserve to die like that,” Glass said.
Glass calls the section of road on Pio Nono between I-75 and Broadway, “death valley.”
Making walking safer for Georgians
Brad Wolfe, Bibb County Captain of Patrol Operations, sits on a pedestrian safety review board that has discussed solutions to this problem, such as decreasing the number of pedestrian deaths at busy roadways, including Pio Nono.
Wolfe believes education and more input from the sheriff’s office and county board will go a long way towards cutting down the number of accidents. He told Fox24 News:
“A lot of pedestrians will tell you the reason they don’t use the crosswalk is because it’s out of their way to get to the crosswalk.”
Jaywalking isn’t strictly illegal in Macon as long as there’s sufficient time to cross and distance between approaching vehicles and pedestrians. Most often, officers will be responding to another call when they see someone crossing a busy road, but they can’t stop except to say it’s a bad idea to cross the street where there’s no crosswalk.
Common causes of pedestrian accidents
While the causes of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians varies greatly, many can be linked to one of the following factors:
- Poor road design
- Drowsy driving
- Faded crosswalks and intersections
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield or stop at crosswalks and intersections
- Low visibility, such as nighttime or fog
- Higher population areas
- Backing up without checking rearview mirrors
Georgia pedestrian laws
Georgia statute §40-6-91 covers who has the right of way at crosswalks.
“The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk… or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane” of the roadway the vehicle is traveling on. In other words, don’t race past someone as they cross the street or try to cut them off.
“Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk… the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.” A pedestrian may be trying to cross the street, and if the approaching vehicle tries to go around, they could cause an accident.
40-6-144 states that “the driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway within a business or residential district shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.” Pedestrians have the right of way, and the vehicle must yield to them before continuing to drive.
Safety tips for pedestrians
Drivers and pedestrians alike have a part to play to avoid pedestrian accidents. Here are 5 basic tips:
- Wait to cross. Suddenly leaving the curb or jumping out into traffic is never a smart move when crossing the street. Even if it appears there are no drivers on the road, a car might come around the corner or not see you very well if it’s dark or foggy.
- Stay on the sidewalk. Don’t walk in the middle of the road or right next to the sidewalk. They’re there for pedestrians to use to walk safely alongside traffic.
- Yield. Unless they’ve already entered the road and are halfway across the lane, pedestrians must yield to oncoming traffic if crossing the road outside of a designated crossing lane.
- Cross at designated crosswalks. Avoid crossing in a diagonal direction or jaywalking. Even if it’s not technically illegal, it’s dangerous because other vehicles may not expect a pedestrian to be crossing there.
- Follow traffic signals. Wait for the light to change from the red stop hand to a green walking stick figure.
What should you do if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident?
After you make sure no one is hurt, call the police. No matter how minor the damages or injuries may seem, you should always report an accident. Most often, the driver’s insurance provider will offer a settlement to the victim. If they feel it’s not enough, or the driver has no insurance, consulting with a Georgia personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you should take legal action.