It is difficult to accept the fact that as pedestrians we must now “walk defensively.” Not so long ago, we generally walked with a sense of safety and assurance. These days, increasingly, we need to concentrate while we walk near traffic to avoid a pedestrian accident. It is with sorrow that we share the story of the untimely passing of a Bartow County high school student. But if, in sharing this story, one life is protected that at least helps make some good from this tragedy. In the morning hours one recent Saturday, the young man walked to his final band competition. He was struck and killed from behind by a passing vehicle. The vehicles bumper hit him. Although we do not know whether he was walking on the side of the road or not, regardless, he was hit and died at the scene. His school band did not compete in the competition as they mourn the loss of this beloved peer and talented AP student.
In memory of this young man, we want to share some safety information with all of our readers. Georgia’s Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has a list of safety tips for pedestrians. One very important suggestions is that, in situations in which there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic as far away as possible from the road. Use crosswalks, and do what we teach our kids to do, look both ways before crossing. In fact, look both ways and then back to the left again before crossing.
Although the tragedy in Bartow County did not appear to involve a road crossing, as the young man was hit from behind, crossing the road can be very dangerous. Georgia law does provide some parameters for pedestrian safety. For example, Georgia law provides specific rules about when drivers must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians when they are in a crosswalk and have already entered that. Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-91 provides that drivers must stop and remain stopped to allow the pedestrian to safely cross. Passing around a vehicle that is stopped for a pedestrian is, of course, prohibited. But we have all seen this happen and we all know that it is very very dangerous and against the law.
Other provisions of Georgia law specify when pedestrians have the right of way and when they must yield to traffic when crossing a road in which there is no crosswalk. For example, an important provision specifies how to manage crosswalks and pedestrians when dealing with the walk and don’t walk signals. Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-22 provides protection for pedestrians when the walk signal is on. When that signal is flashing “don’t walk,” pedestrians have the right of way if they entered on the walk signal and the signal goes to don’t walk. But pedestrians should not enter the intersection if they see either a intermittent or steady “don’t walk.” Drivers should not use the “don’t walk” intermittent signal as a green light. In fact, it is not intended to allow drivers the right of way to go ahead. It is meant for walkers to know not to enter the crosswalk because the light is about to change.
Scholle Law sends our condolences to the family of the young man and to the entire Bartow County community that has lost a young person who was already a star student with so much potential. Our hearts go out to all.