Pedestrian accident fatalities have been on the rise in recent years, and it is becoming increasingly dangerous for those who walk to and from work or for those who just like to walk for exercise or enjoyment. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that there were more than 6,500 pedestrian deaths in 2019. This was a 5% increase over 2018, and the highest number recorded since 1988.
In Georgia, pedestrian fatalities dropped slightly in 2019, but they are still up more than 50% over the past five years. Our state is among the top 10 most dangerous states in the country for pedestrians, and Atlanta is listed as one of the deadliest metro areas for pedestrian accidents.
Why are Pedestrian Accidents Increasing?
There are number of reasons why experts believe that pedestrian deaths are rising:
- Population Increases: One reason more pedestrian accidents are happening is simply the fact that we have a larger population. For example, Georgia’s population is up more than 9% in the past decade, and this percentage is in line with most other states in the region.
- Aging Demographics: Not only do we have a larger population in Georgia, we have an older population as well. More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old each day, and baby boomers (particularly those from the Northeast) are flocking to warmer climates. Elderly pedestrians are especially vulnerable, because when they are hit by a car, they tend to suffer more serious and catastrophic injuries.
- Health-Conscious Lifestyles: Population and age are major factors, but we also have more pedestrian accidents because people are choosing to walk to commute for exercise. This is driven largely by the desire to live a healthier lifestyle and help foster a more sustainable environment.
- Larger Vehicles: Until recently, we enjoyed one of the longest economic recoveries in our history. At the same time, fuel prices have remained stable or even dropped in a lot of places. With more money to spend and less concern about gas mileage, more Americans have been buying SUVs and other large vehicles. These types of vehicles have a higher ground clearance, making it more difficult to see pedestrians that are walking nearby. In addition, when a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle like this, they are more susceptible to severe injuries.
- Distractions: One of the major reasons that pedestrian deaths have been increasing is because of our society’s growing addiction to electronic devices. This is a problem for both motorists and pedestrians. A motorist who is focused on their cell phone is distracted visually, manually, and cognitively, making it more likely that they would fail to see a pedestrian who is crossing in front of them, for example. Pedestrians also tend to be focused on electronic messages while they are walking, and many of them also turn their music up too loud to hear vehicles that are driving nearby.
Tips for Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident in Atlanta
It is very important for both vehicle drivers and pedestrians to do their part in order to help reverse the recent trends.
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians everywhere, not just where you would normally expect to see them. This is especially important after dark, at dawn, and when there is poor lighting, bad weather, or other adverse conditions.
- Always come to a complete stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, particularly if there are children or elderly individuals crossing the road.
- Never pass another vehicle that has stopped at a crosswalk.
- Always look out for pedestrians while making a turn as one might abruptly enter your path. The same holds true when you are backing up the car.
- Be extra careful when you are driving near a school, school bus, or in a school zone.
- Never drive a vehicle while you are intoxicated.
- Never do any type of electronic messaging while driving, and if you must talk on the phone, only do so while it is in “hands-free” mode.
- Always adhere to the speed limit and obey all other traffic rules.
- Always walk on a sidewalk or walking path if there is one available.
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night in order to be seen better.
- Be extra careful at night and when there is poor visibility as it is more difficult for vehicle drivers and other pedestrians to see you.
- Always try to make eye contact with the driver of a vehicle that you are crossing the road in front of.
- Avoid walking after consuming alcohol or drugs as it can impair your judgment and physical capabilities.
- Avoid using your phone or other electronic device, especially when you are at a crosswalk or somewhere where you might encounter a vehicle.
Contact an Experienced Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Following the best safety practices will vastly reduce the chances of being involved in an accident, but it does not eliminate the possibility completely. If you or a loved one got injured in a pedestrian accident that was caused by another party’s negligence, you might be entitled to significant compensation. Before dealing with any insurance company, contact Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. for assistance. Message us online or call our Atlanta office today at 678-981-5370 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.