Pedestrian Safety and Drivers’ Responsibilities

PEDESTRIAN SAFETY 

ALWAYS…

  • Be focused and aware of your surroundings
  • Assume that the drivers near you may not be paying attention
  • Know where you can jump out of the way
  • Be extra vigilant if you are senior, have a disability, are a child, and/or are under the influence of medication, street drugs or alcohol
  • Watch out for the silent hybrid and electric cars, if you are able

WHEN WALKING ON SIDEWALKS AND IN PARKING LOTS…

  • Be aware that drivers do drive on and park on sidewalks
  • Know that drivers park in driveways and block sidewalks, often forcing pedestrians to walk into the street to get around them
  • Be alert to engine noise or backup lights on cars when in parking lots and near on-street parking spaces
  • If your only choice is to walk in the street, go out of your way to find a sidewalk or crossing, or as a last resort, walk facing traffic
  • Using a power chair/scooter in the street is neither legal nor safe

WHEN CROSSING A STREET…

  • Try to catch a driver’s eye, if you are able
  • Cross only at intersections, and when you have the light
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you
  • Look/listen left, right and left again before crossing a street
  • Check pedestrian signals against what the traffic is actually doing
  • Wearing headphones, talking/texting or other distractions when crossing a street take away from your safety
  • Assume the drivers turning right on red or left are not going to slow down
  • Be aware that drivers who stop may block the crosswalk
  • When crossing multiple lanes, be sure traffic has stopped in each lane before you cross it

ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT…

  • Remember that driving at night, into the dawn or twilight, fog, rain or on ice are difficult driving conditions, and decrease the chances of your being seen
  • Carry a flashlight, but do not shine it into a driver’s eyes
  • Be visible by wearing light colored or reflective clothing
  • Cross the street in a well-lit area

DRIVERS’ RESPONSIBILITIES TO PEDESTRIANS

Streets are used by people driving everything from 18-wheelers to bicycles, and by pedestrians crossings streets. Children, seniors and people with disabilities are at the most risk.

MAKING TURNS

About one-third of all collisions with pedestrians at intersections result from violations and errors made by drivers when they turn their vehicles

  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way over turning vehicles
  • Georgia law requires turning cars to stop for pedestrians, even on green lights 

Left Turns

  • Left-turning drivers need to watch for pedestrians using the crosswalk
  • If a pedestrian is on the half of the road onto which the driver will be turning—or if a pedestrian is approaching and within one lane of that half of the road, the driver needs to remain stopped
  • Drivers should never turn left onto their half of the road in front of a pedestrian crossing
  • Do not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light; this puts pedestrians at risk, forcing them to walk around the blocking vehicle
  • Drivers should not pull into the intersection until the pedestrian has cleared the half of the road onto which they will be turning

Right Turns

  • Drivers are required to remain stopped until pedestrians have cleared the half of the road onto which the driver will be turning; the flashing “DON’T WALK” sign is designed to give pedestrians time to finish crossing the street
  • At most intersections, the solid green light begins at the same time as the “WALK” symbol

Right Turns on Red

Drivers turning right on red are a frequent cause of pedestrian injury

  • Before turning right on red, drivers must come to a full and complete stop before the stop bar or crosswalk
  • Drivers waiting to turn right on red need to look to their passenger side, where a pedestrian could be walking in front of the car

CROSSWALKS AND INTERSECTIONS

  • Crosswalks exist on all four corners of intersections, whether or not they are marked by painted lines
  • Crosswalks can also exist midblock if they are marked
  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way over vehicles in crosswalks
  • Drivers need to stop behind the crosswalk, not in it, so pedestrians can get by the vehicle safely
  • Drivers are still required to stop and stay stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the street when the pedestrian is on the same half of the road as they are, whether the intersection has traffic signals or not
  • Drivers are required to stop when a pedestrian is approaching and within one lane of the half of the road on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which the vehicle is turning
  • Drivers are not to overtake and pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk
  • When stopping at a crosswalk on a multi-lane road, drivers should stop 30 feet before the crosswalk so visibility is not blocked for the driver in the next lane
  • On one-way streets, drivers in all lanes must stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian has finished crossing the street

EXITING AND ENTERING DRIVEWAYS

  • When exiting or entering a driveway, alley, or parking garage, a driver must stop before the sidewalk area and yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk
  • Drivers waiting to turn left into a driveway need to yield not just to oncoming traffic, but also to pedestrians on the sidewalk

RECOGNIZING AND RESPECTING PEDESTRIANS WHO HAVE DISABILITIES, SENIORS AND CHILDREN

  • Pedestrians who use guide dogs or white canes are either blind or seriously visually impaired; they cannot see vehicles, look a driver in the eye or notice a silent hybrid or electric car
  • Pedestrians who are deaf or hard of hearing may use a white cane with a second strip of red at the bottom; they cannot hear a driver’s approach, horn or verbal warning
  • Pedestrians with mobility impairments may use walkers, canes, service dogs or just walk slowly
  • Pedestrians may also have hidden disabilities or medical conditions that are not obvious but can exhibit when under stress, such as crossing streets. Many more pedestrians are using service dogs. These dogs do not relieve drivers of their responsibilities. Service dogs and their handlers are considered one being, and injuring or killing a service dog carries heavy penalties under the law
  • Pedestrians can also be children. Young children do not understand what a car could do to them. They are also often focused on what they are doing, rather than a car

SLOW DOWN

  • The faster a person drives, the more likely they are to be involved in a wreck, and the more likely injuries to a pedestrian will be serious or fatal. Even going 20 mph can result in fatalities

BE FOCUSED

  • Talking, texting, listening to loud music or speech, putting on make-up, reading, turning around or reaching down in your seat, driving while emotional or under the influence of medications causing drowsiness, street drugs or alcohol are all serious distractions

STAY AT THE SCENE IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT

  • If the pedestrian or vehicle occupant is injured, call 911
  • Leaving the scene can result in death for critically injured pedestrians
  • Leaving the scene can also result in felony charges for hit-and-run driver

The roads are out there for all of us to use, whether by car, by feet, or other mobility options. Be mindful, be safe, and be courteous to your fellow humans!