Sharing the Road With Pedestrians
While there has been an increase of motor vehicles on our roads, the number of persons traveling by foot is also growing. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, pedestrians account for almost 15% of motor vehicles deaths. In 2016, Georgia had a 15% increase in pedestrian deaths. Distractions are believed to be a contributing factor. It is critical that pedestrians and motorists pay attention to safely share the road.
Georgia’s Law Concerning Pedestrians
The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk:
- When the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. “Half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel;
- When making a left or right turn at any intersection;
- At stop signs, after coming to a complete stop and before proceeding;
- At traffic signals, even when the light is green, if pedestrians are still in the crosswalk;
- When entering a street or highway from an alley, driveway, or private road;
- When approaching a blind person who is crossing a street or highway if he/she is carrying a white cane or being guided by a dog.
Crosswalks exist on all four corners of intersections even when they are not marked by painted lines. A crosswalk is the part of the pavement for pedestrian traffic where the sidewalk would extend across the street. Crosswalks can also exist mid-block if they are marked.
When pedestrians are in crosswalks, they have the right of way over motor vehicles. Do not block crosswalks. When stopping at red lights or stop signs, always stop your vehicle before the crosswalk so pedestrians can cross safely.
Even at crosswalks without traffic signals, drivers must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway or approaching and within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling. “Half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel.
Pedestrians using guide dogs or white walking canes must be given the right of way at all times.
Look for pedestrians on both sides of the street when approaching intersections, when turning, or near schools, parks, bus stops and other places people are likely to walk. Look behind your car for children or other pedestrians before backing up in driveways and parking lots.
Before turning right on red, drivers must come to a full and complete stop before the crosswalk. Do not block the crosswalk when waiting to make a right turn at a red light. This puts pedestrians at risk, forcing them to walk around your vehicle. After looking to your left to find a gap in traffic, you must look to your passenger side to ensure a pedestrian is not crossing in front of your vehicle.
Use extreme caution when passing stopped cars on multi-lane roads. A pedestrian you can’t see may be crossing in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. This is a frequent cause of serious or fatal pedestrian injuries. When you stop at a crosswalk on a multi-lane road, stop at least 10 feet before the crosswalk so a driver in the next lane can see the pedestrian.
When exiting or entering a driveway, alley, or parking garage, drivers must stop before the sidewalk area and proceed only after pedestrians have safely passed. Drivers waiting to turn left into a driveway must wait not only for a gap in oncoming traffic, but also for pedestrians to finish crossing the sidewalk portion of the driveway.
Pedestrians are less protected from the harmful effects of a crash than occupants of motor vehicles. The risk of serious or fatal pedestrian injuries increase exponentially with driver speed.
This chart illustrates the effect of speed upon a pedestrian who is struck by a motor vehicle. When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle traveling 40mph, the risk of pedestrian death is at least 80%.
Bicycle riding is an important type of transportation, particularly for traveling to work and to school. Because bicyclists may be on any road at any time, drivers must always be alert for bicycle traffic.
Bike-car crashes often happen because drivers do not see bicyclists soon enough. In Georgia, as in other states, most crashes occur during daylight hours on straight, dry roads, typically near intersections or driveways.
Bicyclists are legally entitled to use every road in Georgia except the interstate and interstate-like highways (limited access highways). The law allows bicyclists use of the full lane. They are not required to be in a bike lane even when one is present. Although their slower pace may slow motorists occasionally, it is important for drivers to respect the bicyclist’s right to be there. Yield the right of way to the bicyclist in the same way that you would yield to another motorist. If possible, make eye contact with the bicyclist, especially at intersections.
Road defects cause more problems for bicycles than for cars. When passing a bicycle rider, leave the bicyclist plenty of room in case he or she has to swerve to miss a pothole or other danger in the road. The minimum legal space for a motorist to pass a bicyclist is 3 feet.
- At intersections, wait until the bicyclist is out of the intersection before making a turn;
- When passing a bicyclist, slow down and make sure the rider is aware of your presence. Leave at least three feet between the bicycle and your vehicle and only pass when it is safe to do so. If there is not enough room to pass because of oncoming traffic, wait until conditions are safe for passing;
- Watch for bicyclists who may appear to suddenly swerve or turn in front of you. Bicyclists sometimes forget or do not have the opportunity to merge left due to traffic speed, in order to be in the left turn position.;
- Night time bicyclists will not always have lights, and some may not even have reflectors. If you meet an oncoming bicyclist, please dim your lights to avoid blinding the bicyclist.
- Bike lanes and any other bicycle infrastructure are for the use of bicycles only. Motorists are not to drive or park in a bike lane.
- Bicyclists are able to pass on the right side of motorists if there is a dedicated lane or sufficient room in a shared lane, and it is safe to do so.
Bicyclists should use their arms to signal to other motorists when they are going to make a turn, and the direction of the turn or when they are slowing or stopping. The signals used by bicyclists are listed below: