Articles Posted in Pedestrian accidents

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New data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals both good and bad news for drivers and pedestrians.

The good news is that the agency recorded an overall drop in traffic accident fatalities across the United States in 2018. The bad news is that while there was a drop in the number of people killed in car accidents in the country last year, there was actually an uptick in the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities during the same period of time.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a 2.4 percent drop in traffic accident deaths in 2018.  There were 36,560 traffic crash fatalities in 2018, compared to 37,473 deaths in 2018.  The fatality rate dropped from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018. This is also the lowest recorded fatality rate in five years.

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Children of all ages love Halloween. Between the costumes, the parties, and let’s not forget the candy, what’s not to like about Halloween if you are a kid.  But did you know that Halloween is actually the deadliest day of the year for children?  Children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on this day than any other day of the year.  And many of these accidents result in fatal injuries.

In fact, the National Safety Council ranks October as the second dangerous month of the year for children, due in large part to Halloween accidents. To keep your children safe while they are trick or treating this Halloween, here are some tips to make sure everyone enjoys the festivities.

First, your child’s costume should be bright and reflective.  You may even want to consider adding reflective strips to your child’s costume and have your child carry a flashlight.  At a minimum, have them wear glow-in-the-dark accessories or a glow stick to make them more visible.  The deadliest hours of trick-or-treating occurs during the time frame of 5:00 to 9:00 when daylight fades and turns into night.    Although many Halloween costumes lean towards the dark and ghoulish, a bright costume will make sure your child is visible and easily seen by motorist and will help to keep them safe.

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There is no doubt that the metro-Atlanta area is growing by leaps and bounds.  With that growth comes increased traffic, congestion, and unfortunately motor vehicle accidents.   Some of these accidents can be deadly, especially when a pedestrian is involved.

DeKalb County is the second most dangerous county for pedestrians in Georgia, second only to Fulton County. In fact, between 2014 and 2016, there were a total of 67 pedestrian accident fatalities in DeKalb County. Pedestrian deaths, during this period of time, accounted for around one- third of all traffic accident fatalities in the county.

Alarmed by these statistics, officials at DeKalb County have decided to take firm and strategic action to reduce the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, and make the county roads safer for all. DeKalb County Health Board officials are discussing ways to reduce these fatalities with Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety officials, as well as representatives from the DeKalb County Police Department and other concerned pedestrian safety advocates.

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Roundabouts, or traffic circles, are becoming more and more popular with city planners lately to improve traffic flow and overall road safety.  In fact, you’ve probably run into one while driving in a residential area or around the local roads in your community.

Roundabouts have been around for decades, but are gaining more traction as an effective alternative to conventional traffic lights.  In a traditional roundabout, vehicles travel in one counterclockwise direction around a center island.  Vehicles that are entering the roundabout yield to those already in the traffic circle, and there are usually lanes for vehicles to exit the traffic circle onto their desired street.

The most common types of accidents that occur in traditional intersections are left-turn, t-one, and head-on collisions.  Roundabouts have been found to be very effective in intersections that involve high-crash locations, multiple left-turn configurations, and prolonged traffic light cycles.  In fact, some states, such as New York and Virginia, have opted to consider roundabouts as the first option for road planning versus conventional traffic lights.  There are even some smaller islands and regions where traffic lights have been replaced altogether by roundabouts.  Other benefits of traffic circles include reduced fuel consumption and emissions since car spend less time idling at traffic lights.

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Georgia has seen an increase in bicyclist on the roads in the past several years.  While the state laws have a few protections in place for bicyclists, the city of Dunwoody is going one step further and proposing a new law that have even tougher penalties for dangerous drivers, and make the roads safer for bicyclists.

The Dunwoody ordinance was introduced by City Councilman Tom Lambert.  Currently, Georgia laws require that vehicles maintain a distance of a minimum of 3 feet while passing bicyclists.  However, the ordinance would extend that provision to 6 feet, and would add trucks and commercial vehicles to the law.  These vehicles would be required to maintain a distance of a minimum of 6 feet while passing bicyclists.

The ordinance also proposes stiffer penalties for motorists who fail to respect the rights of bicyclists. It goes further than any other such similar ordinances passed elsewhere in the state, because it specifically targets motorists who engage in intimidating and harassing actions towards bicyclists. As many cyclists in Atlanta know, cyclists are far too vulnerable to road rage incidents, and are most likely to become victims of aggressive driving or harassment. Unfortunately, many motorists believe that the roads were created exclusively for the use of four-wheelers and passenger cars, and many do not respect bicyclist rights.  Despite encouraging everyone to “share the road,” not all do.

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The number of pedestrians has been increasing all throughout Georgia as more people choose to walk for health or recreational reasons. The City of Atlanta has especially taken extra efforts to become a more walker friendly town.  Therefore, as a pedestrian, you should be aware of the protections and rights afforded to you under Georgia laws. Learning about these laws will help you obey traffic rules as well as keep you safe.

First of all, pedestrians have the right of way on a marked crosswalk in Georgia. If you are already waking on the crosswalk, then all motorists must stop and yield to you. The law requires the driver of a car to stop and remain stopped while the pedestrian is crossing the road.  The motorist can only resume driving when the pedestrian has safely completed crossing. This essentially means that a motorist can’t try to squeeze by you, or barely give you any room to squeeze by them while they are on the road.

However, the picture becomes different when you are crossing the road outside of a designated crosswalk. Now, the motorist’s have the right of way which means that you must yield to motorists who are driving.  As a pedestrian, you also have the duty to look in both directions to first make sure that the street is safe to cross – a lesson that we all learned as children.  This does not mean that a motorist can continue to speed towards you though.  A driver still has the duty to avoid hitting a pedestrian if he or she is already in the process of crossing the street.   A driver also must anticipate that a pedestrian could attempt to cross the street at any point, and has the duty to warn a pedestrian of their approach by honking the horn or give some other type of warning.

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Pedestrian safety statistics in the United States are have been pretty grim lately. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2016, there was a pedestrian accident fatality every 1.5 hours in the United States.  Even more alarming, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that the number of pedestrian deaths in 2018 were at a 28-year high.

Georgia was one of five states that accounted for almost half of the number of pedestrian deaths just in the first six months of 2018.  In the Atlanta area, pedestrian deaths were also on the rise, especially in 2017, with an alarming number pedestrian accidents occurring on highways.

A recent report by the GHSA found that pedestrian deaths were higher among certain groups including the poor, people of color, and those without health insurance, as these groups were more likely to live in areas that have fewer sidewalks and are otherwise more dangerous for pedestrians.  The GHSA also found that, the elderly and children were especially vulnerable to being struck as a pedestrian.

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The metro Atlanta area has seen an increase in the number of people who choose to walk for recreation.  While this is good news, it also, unfortunately, means that there has been an increase in the number of deaths that occur in accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians. With more and more distracted drivers on Atlanta’s roads, this upward tick is only going to continue.    In fact, some pedestrian advocacy groups say that unless authorities take drastic steps, those fatality numbers could reach unthinkable highs by 2020.

According to statistics, the metro Atlanta area, which encompasses 20 counties, has seen an increase in pedestrian accident deaths from 1,700 in 2006 to more than 2,500 in 2015. That is an increase of a whopping 53 percent.  This also mirrors a nationwide increase in pedestrian accident fatalities that has safety advocates very alarmed.

There has been a growing trend across the metro Atlanta area for a more walkable lifestyle, which includes being able to walk or bicycle to work. Oftentimes, however, pedestrians must walk on roads that are not designed for walking or bicycling.  These types of roads can include those without (or too narrow) sidewalks or bike lanes, multi-lane roads and over congested roads.  Some of the more dangerous roads in the metro Atlanta area include Buford Highway, Tara Boulevard, Piedmont Road and Peachtree Road, just to name a few.  Roads such as these can place a pedestrian at an increased risk of being involved in an accident with a motor vehicle.   Not surprisingly, when a pedestrian is involved in such an accident, it usually results in serious injuries, or even death, to the pedestrian.  In certain parts of Atlanta, such as the densely populated intown areas, fatalities have increased significantly over the past several years.  In these dense areas, the roads have been designed to move traffic along as speedily as possible. Unfortunately, pedestrians often find that their safety needs are not necessarily considered when improvements are made to road design.

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It is no secret that pedestrian fatality numbers in the state are on the rise. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, in 2017 alone 1,454 pedestrians died in accidents across the Georgia.

As the number of pedestrian accidents in Georgia continues to increase every year at least, one community is taking firm steps to reduce those deadly statistics. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety recently lauded the community of Macon for the steps that the city is taking to reduce pedestrian fatalities. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety recently announced a grant of $20,785 to the city of Macon and its On the Move campaign.

The city of Macon has seen more than its share of pedestrian accident fatalities.  In fact, it was recently ranked second in Georgia in the number of pedestrian fatalities per capita. In response to those alarming statistics, the city’s administrators have put their heads together to announce a new initiative. The Macon Commissioner recently formed the Macon-Bibb Pedestrian Safety Review Board to analyze pedestrian accident fatalities across the community. One of the Board’s first initiatives is the Cross the Walk campaign. The campaign is designed to inform and educate people about safe and responsible ways of crossing the street.

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Climate change has been in the news for years now regarding its effects on weather related tragedies.  From eroding coastlines, rising poverty levels and soaring temperatures -climate change is blamed for an entire range of global disasters. Every region on the globe, including Georgia, has seen dramatic shifts in its weather.  However, could these changes in weather also be linked to increasing highway accident fatality numbers?

It appears that they could. Traffic safety experts have been trying to understand why road accident fatality numbers have been increasing since 2015, after several decades of a downward trend in fatality numbers. Earlier, safety experts focused on increasing rates of cell phone use by motorists as the leading factor causing this increase. However, they were later able to debunk that theory because there was no increase in smartphone use during the period of time that they studied.  They then changed their focus to another possible factor-the weather.

Temperature increases are likely to be at least partly the reason why we are seeing an increase in the number of people dying in traffic accidents. Warmer weather simply means more people out on the road. People drive, walk, bicycle and ride their motorcycles more in warmer weather, than in wet or snowy weather. The experts found in their analysis that pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists –   people who are much more likely to be out walking, riding or bicycling during warmer weather – accounted for a large percentage of traffic accident fatality fatalities during the study period.