The rights of pedestrians have been bolstered in Georgia in recent years but arguably they still have a considerable way to go.

Many drivers are still unsure of the law when they encounter a pedestrian, states the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. More than 15 years ago in 1995 the Georgia legislature amended the crosswalk law so as drivers must “stop and stay stopped” for pedestrians, as opposed to just yield to them.

Under § 40-6-91, a driver must stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the road within a crosswalk when 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.”

Under the subsection, the definition of “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes that carry traffic in one direction of travel.

Drivers who attempt to cut off, squeeze around or cut off pedestrians in a crosswalk commit a criminal offense. More seriously, they can injure or kill a pedestrian.

The law also states no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other safe place and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is not practical for the driver to yield.

The rights of pedestrians in Georgia

A crosswalk

If any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

Although jaywalking is not a legal term in Georgia, pedestrians are not allowed to cross at any place except a crosswalk between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation. However, crossing the street away from a crosswalk is legal in most locations as long as pedestrians yield to traffic.

Pedestrians who cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road unless the pedestrian has entered the roadway under safe conditions.

Although pedestrians will find it more difficult to enforce their rights if they are injured away from a crosswalk, under Georgia law every driver has an obligation to exercise due care to avoid hitting a pedestrian on the roadway. The driver should give a warning by sounding his or her horn when necessary and exercise proper precautions on seeing any child or someone who is confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.

If a driver is speeding or driving intoxicated, he or she may be liable for injuries to pedestrians away from crosswalks

Young children are deemed not to act rationally on roads and drivers who fail to look out for them may be liable in a personal injury lawsuit.

Pedestrians are often hit when they are trying to escape crashes. In May, University of Georgia student Bridget Thompson, 19, of Grayson was killed in a pedestrian accident in Oconee County.

A report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution suggested she was walking away from a crash scene.

If you have been hurt in an auto/pedestrian accident or lost a loved one, please call our Georgia personal injury lawyers. We can advise you on the rights of pedestrians in Georgia. Contact the Law Office of Michael West here at (404) 913-1529.