Atlanta is a great city if you enjoy walking.  It is one of the most walkable cities in the country, due in part to the wonderful climate and very accessible public transportation like the MARTA Rail and busses.   Atlanta is making huge improvements in connecting historic neighborhoods and making it easy for residents to walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and other cool venues.  One of the nationally renowned efforts to accomplish this can be seen in the Atlanta Belt Line.

Apart from the health benefits, walking provides an affordable option to those who either don’t have cars or don’t want cars—which, between gas, insurance, and regular maintenance, can cost thousands of dollars each year. More and more people are choosing to forego costly vehicles in favor of walking.

Atlanta’s walkability allows its residents to commute affordably and actively, but what about safety? Just like drivers, pedestrians need look where they’re walking and pay attention to the traffic around them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas.

So what can pedestrians do to protect themselves? Here are some helpful tips for those who prefer walking to driving.

Avoid distractions. Did you realize that distracted driving is quickly becoming a greater hazard than drunk driving?  Nationally there is an alarming increase in accidents related to people texting while driving.  In addition to distracted drivers, pedestrians can also become distracted by having their heads buried in their cell phones, instead of looking both ways before crossing streets.  The pedestrians also have a responsibility to watch for distracted drivers. Stay alert and make eye contact with the drivers near you before crossing the street. Just because you see them doesn’t mean they see you.

Avoid walking when it’s dark. If it’s hard for drivers to see you during the day, just imagine how much more difficult it is at night. 70 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred between 6 pm and 6 am in 2013. If you work very late or very early, it’s hard to avoid walking when it’s dark—but you can stay safe by carrying a flashlight or wearing reflective clothing.

Use sidewalks and crosswalks. Take advantage of sidewalks and crosswalks as much as possible—after all, that’s what they’re there for. However, sometimes neighborhoods are undergoing construction or simply don’t have sidewalks. In those situations, carefully walk on the shoulder of the road while facing traffic. When you’re walking, try to use designated crosswalks as much as you can instead of jaywalking. Obey traffic rules, just as cars do.

In 2013, Georgia saw more pedestrians die in accidents involving cars (182 people), than any time since 1997.  Due to this, Georgia is constantly working to improve traffic law enforcement, improve walk friendly engineering (Atlanta Beltline), and reduced speed limits.

Walking as a method of commuting is good for your health, the environment, and the community, but it’s important to stay safe. If you’re unsure of your responsibilities as a pedestrian, take the time to review safety recommendations, and remember: just like when driving a vehicle, you can never depend on others to maintain your safety.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact the Law Offices of Howe & Associates.  We are knowledgeable and experienced in local personal injury law and we get our clients the compensation they deserve.