Anyone who lives near Buford Highway and walks or bikes on the road knows that it is extremely dangerous. Buford Highway is so dangerous for pedestrians that PBS has done a documentary on dangerous roadways that focuses on Buford Highway, the most dangerous roadway in Georgia for pedestrians.
Although many along the most dangerous sections of Buford Highway cannot afford cars, they must cross many lanes of traffic dodging vehicles that often race by at speeds exceeding the 45-mph speed limit. The number of injuries and fatalities along the thirty mile Buford Highway is triple that of any other roadway in Georgia.
GDOT acknowledges that a full eight miles of the thirty mile highway is dangerous for pedestrians. Buford Highway claims the lives of thirty pedestrians per year with another 250 injured in pedestrian accidents. This is symptomatic of dangerously designed pedestrian highways and roads throughout the country. A recent report by a national pedestrian safety organization indicates that 46,000 pedestrians were killed over the last decade, which is the equivalent to a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing every month.
The problem is that Buford Highway and similar dangerous pedestrian roadways in suburban areas were built with the notion that the primary means of transportation would be by car. However, suburban areas are increasingly occupied by the poor who cannot afford transportation by car. The PBS report indicates that the demographics of cities and suburban areas have shifted. There are now more people living in poverty living in the suburbs than in the city. The Atlanta area, for example, has 85 percent of the poor living in suburban areas according to the report. The most dangerous stretch of Buford Highway for pedestrians has many lanes of speeding traffic, crosswalks that are a mile apart, stop lights even more sporadically placed, no sidewalks and bus stops that are nothing more than a sign immediately adjacent to cars, trucks and SUVs zooming by in lanes of traffic.
Another hazard for pedestrians is posed by cabs, shuttle services and the like that aggressively race along Buford Highway competing with buses for patrons. These commercial transportation services often use the same stops as the buses. According to the PBS report, 25 percent of pedestrian accidents on Buford Highway involve pedestrians who are hit while trying to catch the bus.
While the number of pedestrian accidents and accompanying catastrophic injuries and pedestrian fatalities have made the problem easy to identify, it is not easy to rectify. The standard for setting speed limits nationally is based on the speed at which 85 percent of the population is comfortable driving. According to Kathy Zahul, Georgia Traffic Operations Engineer, the speed limit must be set at the maximum reasonable safe speed under Georgia law. This means that to lower the speed limit on dangerous Georgia roads like Buford Highway they must make design changes that will force drivers to slow down so that they can justify lowering the speed limit. Installing sidewalks and constructing buildings closer to the street and similar measures, which is known to reduce vehicle speed, must occur first to justify a speed limit reduction despite the obvious existing safety risk to pedestrians.
Georgia spends about $2 billion per year on transportation but only a miniscule portion goes toward pedestrian projects. However, a program is designed to commence in 2012, which would install sidewalks along Buford Highway and eventually result in more crosswalks being installed. Although Buford Highway is considered the most dangerous pedestrian road in Georgia, it is symptomatic of a larger problem – the danger of roads for pedestrians in suburban areas that were designed primarily for motor vehicles.
If you or your loved one is injured in a pedestrian accident in Atlanta, or you have lost a loved one in a fatal pedestrian accident, you may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation. The experienced Georgia pedestrian accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing Georgia pedestrian accident victims in Atlanta and throughout the state for over 39 years. We understand the stress, pain and financial challenges associated with pedestrian collisions and fight hard to protect our clients’ rights and to get them the compensation they deserve.
Our Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.