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Georgia Ranks as One of Most Unsafe States for Pedestrians

A new pedestrian safety report lists Georgia as one of the most dangerous states in the country for pedestrians.

Georgia was ranked at No. 6 on the list of states that are most dangerous for pedestrians.  The August Richmond Country metropolitan area was ranked as the 20th most dangerous area in the country for pedestrians.   These recognitions are more than likely ones that Georgians and their policymakers would rather not have.

The report titled Dangerous by Design states that between 2008 and 2017, there were a total of 49,340 people killed in pedestrian accidents across the country. That makes it a staggering 13 persons killed each day in pedestrian accidents across the United States.

In fact, the report shows that the streets in the U.S. have gotten progressively more dangerous for pedestrians. Over the ten-year period, there was a steady increase in the number of pedestrians killed in accidents.  What’s more, 2016 and 2017 have proved to be two of the most dangerous years for pedestrians with motor vehicle related deaths reaching record highs since 1990.

The report states that while the rates of walking have increased among Americans, that alone doesn’t account for the increasing number of pedestrian fatalities in our country.  A bigger share of the blame has to be placed at the doors of policy makers who have failed to account for the increasing number of pedestrians and vehicles in the design and construction of our streets. Street design continues to be focused on faster and smoother movement of an ever growing number of vehicles on our streets, and as a result, the streets have only become more dangerous for pedestrians.

Unfortunately, pedestrians and to some extent bicyclists, constantly rank low on the priority list for counties and cities. Several studies have shown that simple measures like increasing the number and locations of marked and designated crosswalks can make it easier for pedestrians to cross roads safely, and decrease the risk of accidents. These modifications of intersections can allow for the movement of traffic while urging motorists to look out for pedestrians. Other enhancements like improved and increased street lighting, as well as better and expanded use of speed cameras to cut down on the number of speeding motorists who pose a threat to pedestrian safety can help keep pedestrians safer.  However, these modifications are rarely a priority for policy makers.

When a pedestrian, or a cyclist, is involved in an accident where he has been hit by a car, the resulting injuries, if not fatal, can be very serious.  Often times the pedestrian’s injuries will include multiple broken bones, severe lacerations that leave permanent scarring, and even brain damage.  The treatment and recovery for these injuries can take months and can have a long term effect on the pedestrian and their families.

The continuing trend of designing roads with the goal of allowing more and faster cars over everything else results in the grim statistic of a pedestrian being killed every hour and 46 minutes in the Unites States. Sadly, most of these accidents are entirely preventable.  However, unless and until street design seriously takes into account the safety of pedestrians and cycles as a must, the accident statistics will not improve.  As the metro Atlanta area continues to grow, the need to have pedestrian safety in mind when designing its roads and infrastructure will need to be a priority.