Walking is a healthy and convenient way to get around many parts of Georgia. Even if you usually drive or take public transportation, a significant stretch at the beginning or end of your journey is likely to take place on foot.
The popularity and necessity of walking makes it all the more upsetting to watch the reports of pedestrian deaths become ever more frequent.
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, pedestrian fatalities climbed 9.5% nationally and 18.4% in Georgia from 2014-2015, reaching levels not seen since before 2008.
Worse still, hit-and-run has been on the rise both locally and nationally, with Georgia becoming the 4th most dangerous state for hit-and-run, according to a study by AAA.
How to Protect Yourself
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that the vast majority of pedestrian fatalities take place between 6pm and midnight, in urban areas, and on non-crosswalk stretches of road. Seniors are at the greatest risk by far, and alcohol plays a role in 40% of incidents.
Recommended strategies to reduce your risk include:
- Walking on the sidewalk when possible.
- Walking on the shoulder, facing traffic, when no sidewalk is available.
- Making eye contact with approaching drivers to be sure they’ve seen you.
- Crossing at crosswalks and intersections whenever possible.
- When crosswalks and intersections are not available, finding a well-lit area, waiting for a gap in traffic, and remaining alert.
- Wearing bright colors and using reflectors or flashlights at night.
- Avoiding walks under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Of course, while alcohol and drugs constitute serious risk factors for pedestrians, they’re even more lethal in the hands of the drivers. Drivers who are under the influence are also significantly more likely to flee the scene.
Other driving behaviors that increase the odds of pedestrian accidents include speeding, running red lights, and distracted driving. While you can’t control the behavior of drivers when you or your loved ones are walking, you can take some comfort knowing that the law takes driver negligence in pedestrian accidents very seriously.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
If you witness an accident involving a pedestrian, take note of the vehicle’s license plate as soon as possible, in case you’re witnessing a hit-and-run in progress. Thanks in part to bystander vigilance, about 50% of hit-and-run offenders are eventually identified. You can also make yourself available to offer aid or call 911 if this has not already been done.
If you’ve already lost a loved one to a pedestrian accident, hit-and-run or otherwise, you’re probably feeling a great deal of understandable anger and confusion. While nothing can undo what’s been done, the Stoddard Law Firm has the expertise necessary to help you find justice. Contact us online or by phone to schedule a free consultation.