As a law firm that handles numerous pedestrian wrongful death and injury cases, we see the issue of a lack of pedestrian rights over and over again. The tragic case of the death of AJ Nelson and the prosecution of his mother bring these issues to the forefront, where they belong.
It is a simple fact that was no urban planning in Atlanta for pedestrians for 50 years. Streets were laid out and expanded without sidewalks and as apartment complexes were added, it never occurred to the DOT or the developers that people have a hard time crossing 5 lane roads like Tara Boulevard and Buford Highway.
This is especially true near low income apartments where everyone takes the bus and walks for their groceries. Pedestrians are simply not going to walk more than 3 football fields to get to a crosswalk. It is silly to assume otherwise. All of the middle class motorists who sit around and judge this people have never walked in their shoes. What would you do with two screaming kids and a bag of groceries.
We are handling a wrongful death case right now for the family of a woman who was crossing the street from a grocery store to her house in Clayton County when she was run down and killed. The driver in that case had been drinking but was not arrested for DUI. The insurance company claims that she was responsible for her own death for not walking a half a mile down the road to cross at a crosswalk and a half a mile back. Does it make any sense that the law would expect someone to walk a mile out of their way?
The law on the topic says that if there is not a traffic light at the closest streets on either side, that the pedestrian does not have to use the crosswalk. How is that any less safe or dangerous? It is an arbitrary rule which does not improve pedestrian safety.
The simple and cost effective answer is to paint crosswalks at more frequent locations with yellow warning lights. That way there is a lower cost due to no traffic signal and protection from a safety and legal standpoint for the pedestrian.
Prosecuting working mothers who have no practical choice but to cross the street is a driving man’s judgment on the poor.
Walk a mile in their shoes and then get back to me.