When Public Entities Do Not Take Sufficient Steps to Make Pedestrians Safe


January 02, 2012

Even when extreme care is taken, there is still a serious danger for pedestrians who must share the roadways of Atlanta with motor vehicles. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) makes the scope of the danger clear. Approximately 64,000 people per year are injured in pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles and another 5,000 people are killed.

Statistically, a pedestrian is injured in a pedestrian accident every eight minutes and a pedestrian dies in a collision with a motor vehicle accident every 111 min. While more people are killed in pedestrian accidents in urban areas like the Atlanta Metro area, the ratio of pedestrian fatalities to injuries is far worse in more rural areas where vehicles are likely to be moving at a higher rate of speed.

Many of these pedestrian accidents occur at intersections. The problem is there is no surefire way to completely protect pedestrians when they must cross the street putting them in the direct path of motor vehicles. However, there are a substantial number of measures that public entities can do to help make intersections safer for pedestrians. Sometimes the failure of a public entity to take such measures may constitute negligence particularly where there is a history of pedestrian accidents at the intersection. We have provided an overview of some of the measures that public entities may take to make intersections safer for pedestrians:

Exclusive Use Traffic Signals: One effective and inexpensive method of making pedestrians safer at intersections is the use of timing of the signals so that pedestrians have exclusive use of the intersection when pedestrians are crossing the street. Studies have shown that this approach can reduce pedestrian accidents at intersections by half according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). A related approach to modifying traffic signals is called “early release timing”, which is designed to give pedestrians a head start before vehicles begin driving through the intersection. Both of these measures have shown to reduce the number of pedestrian intersection collisions.

Improved Lighting: Many pedestrian accidents that are caused by unsafe intersections involve the failure of public entities to provide adequate lighting. The important role of appropriate lighting at an intersection is reflected by the fact that over half of all pedestrian accidents occur after dark.

Roundabouts: While roundabouts are a more expensive type of counter-measure, they are widely regarded as an effective way to prevent motor vehicle accidents at intersections. The IIHS reports that two studies have found that roundabouts also reduce pedestrian accidents by 75 percent.

Placing Barriers between Cars and Pedestrians: There are a variety of ways that a public entity can put physical barriers between pedestrians and motor vehicles, which reduce the risk of a pedestrian confronting a car, truck or SUV. A refuge island in the middle of the intersection that separates lanes of traffic moving in opposite directions has been found to reduce pedestrian collisions by between 50-75 percent. This pedestrian safety measure is particularly effective when implemented at wide intersections or to prevent elderly pedestrian accidents.

The key is that a public entity has a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent pedestrian accidents at intersections. Sometimes public entities simply ignore a pattern of pedestrian accidents at a particular intersection or a certain type of intersection design that has shown to be extremely likely to play a significant role in pedestrian accidents. If you or your loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, our experienced Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyers may be able to assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries.

Our Atlanta pedestrian accident attorneys 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.

Category: Personal Injury

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.