According to new statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths in automobile accidents in 2016 and 2017 - nearly 6,000 deaths each year - represent a significant rise over past years. As the Wall Street Journal and USA Today report, the number has been rising since 2009, rising 9% in 2016 and 9.5% in 2015.
Although no definitive cause for the increase has been determined, experts have pointed to an increase in distracted driving (as well as pedestrians who are distracted) and drunk driving. The report also noted a significantly higher rise in pedestrian deaths in states that had legalized marijuana, although, it is not clear that there was a direct correlation, or, if there was, if it was the result of drivers or pedestrians being under the influence of the drug. Seventy-five percent of pedestrian deaths occur at night, highlighting the importance of visibility for pedestrians.
Georgia law generally provides right of way to pedestrians who are legally within a crosswalk if the pedestrian is "upon the half of the roadway upon 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. (OCGA 40-6-91) Even outside of a crosswalk, however, or in an unmarked crosswalk, drivers must yield to a pedestrian who "has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway." (OCGA 40-6-92). A pedestrian is also not allowed to cross into a crosswalk where a "Do Not Walk" signal is present. (OCGA 40-6-22). Georgia personal injury lawsuits involving injuries to pedestrians often involve conflicting versions of where a pedestrian was located (in a crosswalk vs. outside of a designated or unmarked crosswalk) and whether the driver or pedestrian undertook unexpected movements just before a pedestrian impact. Driver speed, and sometimes pedestrian speed (running vs. jogging vs. walking, for example) are also sometimes at issue.