A pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle is often in serious peril. Unlike motorists, pedestrians have no protection from harm when an accident occurs. There is no helmet to protect their head. No airbags will deploy to cushion the impact. No restraint will keep them from flying into the air. Put simply, pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users today.
Federal statistics estimate that one pedestrian is injured every eight minutes in the U.S., and one person dies from a pedestrian accident every two hours. In 2011, more than 4,400 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents across the country, and 130 of the fatalities took place in Georgia. It is alarming that over the course of just two days in December, three pedestrians were struck in the Atlanta metro area. Two of those victims died.
Although laws are in place that give pedestrians certain rights in traffic, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that neither pedestrians nor drivers obey the rules consistently. Both drivers and pedestrians may be distracted by cell phones or music players that keep them from paying attention to their surroundings. Nearly half of all pedestrian accidents in 2011 involved drivers or pedestrians with blood-alcohol concentrations over the legal limit of 0.08, NHTSA reports.
You Can Protect Yourself as a Pedestrian
As NHTSA puts it, everyone is a pedestrian. As such, we have an obligation to do whatever we can to be safe on the roads.
The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) offers these suggestions:
- Always use the sidewalk. If one is not available, walk as close to the left side of the road as possible, facing oncoming traffic.
- Cross the street only at intersections and street corners. Always use marked crosswalks if possible.
- Follow the traffic signals.
- Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the road.
- Wear bright and reflective clothing.
- Always look for turning traffic, especially for those who are taking a right turn on red.
What You Can Do as a Driver
If you strike a pedestrian in your motor vehicle, you could be in serious trouble. Try these tips to prevent an accident from happening:
- Always be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially in bad weather or dim light.
- Slow down and be ready to stop at a crosswalk.
- Don’t stop in the middle of a crosswalk so people have to move to get around your vehicle.
- Be especially careful when you are backing up.
Know the Laws
The GOHS provides the text for the Georgia statutes on pedestrian safety, but if you have questions regarding an injury caused by being struck by a car, a Georgia personal injury attorney can explain your legal options.