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Pedestrian Accidents

By Evan L. Kaine

A text we think we need to respond to immediately.

Running late for an appointment.

Whatever it may be, nothing is worth risking a run-in with a pedestrian. Recently, we have seen the unfortunate news of a pedestrian fatally struck on I-285 in Sandy Springs, closing all lanes of traffic on Thursday morning and a mother and child in DeKalb County being hit recently by, what authorities believe to have been, a distracted driver.

Pedestrian accidents can be avoided by simply paying attention. As we stated recently, December has been named National Impaired Driving Prevention Month—a campaign that urges drivers to stay sober behind the wheel. While substances impair our judgment, there are other ways in which we can become distracted and endure an accident involving a pedestrian. Think of how many times you rushed out of a grocery store parking lot or you didn’t fully stop at a crosswalk. Think of how many times you picked up your phone to read a text rather than double-checking that there was no one behind you or on the side of your car.

We have all done it.

According to authorities in Gwinnet County, one of Georgia’s largest, pedestrian accidents are on a rise. Gwinnett County police say there have been 11 pedestrian deaths so far this year, compared to 7 last year and 5 in 2012. Police officers say many accidents have happened in the areas of Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Singleton Road and South Norcross Tucker Road.

But it isn’t just the drivers. Responsibility also falls on the pedestrian. Authorities say the majority of deaths could have been avoided if pedestrians utilized nearby crosswalks and obeyed traffic rules and signals.

So what are the rules in the state of Georgia? Take a look and remember to slow down— be cognizant and cautious as a driver and as a pedestrian!

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91. Right of Way in Crosswalks:

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For the purposes of this subsection, “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel.

In other words, it’s illegal for drivers to squeeze by, drive around or cut off a pedestrian in a crosswalk, even if there’s room. Forget yield. Remember STOP.

(b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

(c) Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply under the conditions stated in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-92.

(d) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

Pedestrian accidents can be avoided if both parties slow down, take a second glance and understand the rules. Be safe—both driving and walking.

For more information on this article, contact Kaine Law.

Published January 22, 2015
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