Sharing the Road
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%.
Georgia’s roads are growing more crowded. 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 pose problems for 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.
Today’s motorcycle riders are friends, relatives, and neighbors, but many car drivers still have not adjusted to motorcycles appearing in traffic. Traveling by motorcycle is appealing to some people; they are fuel and space efficient and can be fun to ride. Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers. While everyone must follow the same traffic laws, motorcyclists face additional dangers because motorcycles require exceptional handling ability and motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury and death than car drivers if involved in a crash. It is important to understand more about motorcycle operation.
From ahead or behind, a motorcycle’s outline, whether 2 or 3 wheels, is much smaller than a passenger vehicle’s outline, and most drivers expect to see larger vehicles on the road and are not looking for motorcycles. The small profile of the motorcycle may make it appear farther away and traveling slower than it actually is. Drivers need to take a second look, and then a third. Always make a visual check (mirrors, too) of blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections. Be alert for a motorcyclist to appear unexpectedly.
Motorcycles are allowed the full width of a lane in which to maneuver. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane. Understand that motorcyclists may adjust lane position for their own safety, not to be reckless or show off. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily or to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, or other conditions. Often, this means riding in the left portion of the traffic lane to allow a better view of some traffic and road situations. It also makes the motorcycle more visible to other traffic. However, as traffic and road conditions change, the rider may move. This move could be to the center of the lane or even to the right side to avoid traffic or to be seen by others on the road.
Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
Intersections are the most likely places for car/motorcycle crash to occur. This usually is the result of a car driver NOT SEEING the motorcycle and turning into the motorcycle’s path. Misinterpreting a rider’s intentions can also lead to crashes. The rider will move to one side of the lane in preparation for a turn or possibly to move away from a hazard unseen by other motorists. Do not assume the rider’s intention until the maneuver is unmistakably started, such as a turn into an intersection or driveway. Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals may not be self-canceling and motorcyclists sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed.
Allow more following distance — three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle so the motorcycle rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Space between the two vehicles should be increased to avoid sudden braking. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars. Both riders and drivers are more likely to make incorrect decisions if there is not enough stopping distance or ability to see and react to conditions. This leads to crashes. A rider’s chance of injury is greater if forced to avoid obstacles ahead, as well as a driver following too closely.
The rules for passing other vehicles are similar for motorcycles. The motorist being overtaken by a motorcycle should maintain lane position and speed. Allow the motorcyclist to complete the pass and assume proper lane position as quickly as possible. When passing a motorcycle, allow a full lane to the motorcycle. Never crowd into the same lane as the motorcycle. Returning to the original lane too soon can force a rider to swerve to the right into traffic or off the road.
What all this means is, motorcycles are full partners in the traffic mix and must be treated with the same courtesies. Watch for the unexpected and give them their share of the road; a rider may be the neighbor next door.
This section is designed to encourage drivers of all other kinds of vehicles and motorcyclists to “share the road” with each other and is provided through the courtesy of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- 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 when it is safe to do so. If there is not enough room to pass because of other traffic, wait until conditions are safe for passing;
- Watch for bicyclists who may suddenly swerve or turn in front of you without warning. Bicyclists sometimes forget to move to the middle of the road to make a left turn until they are at the turn;
- 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:
In most cases, all drivers are required to stop when approaching or meeting a stopped school bus that has its lights flashing and is loading or unloading passengers. The exception to this rule is when highways are separated in the center by median strips. In this situation, only vehicles following or traveling alongside a school bus in the same direction must stop.
A warning will be given in advance by the flashing red or amber lights on the front and rear of the bus. After stopping, you must remain stopped until the bus resumes motion or deactivates its warning signals AND all loading or unloading passengers have cleared the roadway.
Commercial motor vehicles are vital to the economy of Georgia and the United States. Most of the products used in every day life were delivered to stores by commercial motor vehicles. Drivers of commercial motor vehicles are trained, specially licensed driving professionals.
Sharing the road with commercial motor vehicles is a necessary part of travel. Heavy trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more, and drivers should use caution when driving near them.
Everyone should be aware of the differences between trucks and cars and behave accordingly. These include:
- A fully loaded tractor-trailer, traveling 55 mph, needs 3 times the distance a car needs to stop;
- Large trucks are more difficult to maneuver, are longer and heavier, and require much more room to turn;
- Large trucks have larger blind spots, called “No-Zones.”
The “No-Zone” represents the danger areas around trucks and buses where crashes are more likely to occur. Some No-Zones are actual blind spots or areas around trucks and buses where your car “disappears” from the view of the drivers. These blind spots are the Side No-Zone, Rear No-Zone, and Front No-Zone areas.
- Side No-Zones – Trucks and buses have big No-Zones (blind spots) on both sides. They are much larger than a car’s blind spots. If you cannot see the driver’s face in the side-view mirror, the driver cannot see you. The right side No-Zone is particularly dangerous because truck and bus drivers must make wide right turns.
- Rear No-Zones – Unlike cars, trucks and buses have huge No-Zones directly behind them. Trucks and buses have no rear view mirror. The truck or bus driver cannot see your car there and you cannot see what is going on ahead of the truck or bus. It is critical to keep a safe distance behind a truck or bus in case the driver slows or stops suddenly.
- Front No-Zones – Trucks and buses require more room and time to stop than cars. Because of this, more space should be given in front of trucks and buses. It is not safe to “cut in front” of a truck and then slow down. To avoid the Front No-Zone, make sure that you can see the entire front of the truck or bus in your rear-view mirror before you merge or pull into that lane of traffic.
In the illustration on the previous page, the commercial motor vehicle’s blind spots, or “No Zones,” are highlighted in blue. These are areas to avoid when sharing the road with a truck or bus.
Georgia Fines & Penalties
- Mandatory court appearance;
- Up to $1000 fine;
- Up to 6 points on driving record;
- A conviction under 21 years of age constitutes license suspension.
THE GEORGIA TACT PROJECT
Targeting Aggressive Cars & Trucks
Law Enforcement officers are stopping people who drive unsafe around commercial motor vehicles, whether they are driving a car or commercial motor vehicle.
What to do to avoid getting a citation:
- Don’t cut off commercial motor vehicles. For safety, one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed is recommended;
- Don’t tailgate. Unlike cars, commercial motor vehicles have big blind spots behind them. Also, car drivers who tailgate commercial motor vehicles can’t see traffic ahead. If the commercial motor vehicle brakes suddenly, you have no time to react and no place to go;
- Don’t speed. Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes;
- Allow commercial motor vehicles plenty of room. Be careful when you or the commercial motor vehicle are entering a highway or merging with traffic.
DON’T GET A CITATION