Pedestrians have never been more unsafe on the streets of Georgia. According to reports, there was a alarming spike in the number of pedestrian accident fatalities reported last year.
In 2016, there was an increase of 21% in pedestrian accident fatalities across Georgia, compared to the previous year. These statistics come from a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which also found that pedestrian traffic fatalities had spiked across 34 states in the U.S. Overall, there was an 11% increase in the number of pedestrian accident fatalities across the U.S. in 2016, compared to 2015.
The picture was markedly worse in Georgia. Between January and June 2016, there were 109 pedestrian fatalities across the state, compared to 90 fatalities during the same period of time in 2015.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association blames a number of factors for this increase in pedestrian fatalities but being distracted tops the list. The GHSA identifies distracted driving to an increased number of accidents involving both motorists and pedestrians. It also blames distractions by pedestrians who are talking or texting on their smart phones when they walk into danger.
At KWFDM, we also blame the lack of awareness about pedestrian safety and traffic safety rules in Georgia. Not many people respect the fact that a pedestrian on a crosswalk in Georgia has the absolute right-of-way. If you see a pedestrian about to cross on a crosswalk, you need to stop your car and wait for the person to cross.
Transportation agencies in Georgia are making efforts to address the problem. For instance, Georgia has the “See and Be Seen” Campaign that focuses on encouraging motorists to look out for pedestrians. The campaign also encourages citizens to cross where they can be seen. In other words, cross only on a marked and designated crosswalk, and avoid crossing in the middle of traffic simply because you do not want to walk to the next crosswalk.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has also been investing in traffic safety enhancements, including identifying high-risk bus stops, road safety audits focused on pedestrian safety, stronger analyses of pedestrian injury data based on hospital statistics, and reviews of infrastructure projects to make sure that all enhancements are in line with GDOT’s Complete Streets policy and accommodate pedestrians.