Apr 11, 2022 - News

Georgia's roads are deadly for pedestrians, report shows

Percentage change in pedestrian fatalities per 100k people
Data: Governors Highway Safety Association; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Even as roads emptied during the pandemic, the number of people struck and killed by drivers rose in Georgia, making the state one of the most dangerous for pedestrians, according to a new report.

Why it matters: Most roads in Georgia and metro Atlanta are designed to move cars as quickly and efficiently as possible, a choice by local and state governments that puts pedestrians and cyclists at great risk for serious injuries or death.

Details: 182 pedestrians died in Georgia in the first six months of 2021, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, a 77% increase from the same time period the previous year.

Zoom in: Atlanta reported 29 pedestrian deaths in all of 2021, nearly double the number in 2020, according to statistics the Atlanta Police Department provided to Axios.

  • Gwinnett police say 17 pedestrians died and 11 were seriously injured in 2021, compared to six deaths and five serious injuries in 2020.
  • Cobb police said 52 people were killed in traffic fatalities in 2021 but could not break down the statistics by modes of transportation. DeKalb officials did not respond to requests for data.

According to Smart Growth America’s 2021 “Dangerous by Design” report, 1,160 pedestrians in metro Atlanta died from 2010 to 2019.

Behind the numbers: During the pandemic, officials saw more drastic damage caused by speeding cars, Atlanta transportation commissioner Josh Rowan tells Axios. “Lights being hit, poles being hit, utilities being knocked down. Just very dramatic crashes.”

  • “And then the data started coming out,” Rowan said. “And I was like, No, this isn't anecdotal. This is happening.”

Also, newer and bigger pick-up trucks and SUVs — are deadlier during pedestrian crashes.

What’s next: In Atlanta, city officials are installing more 25 mph signs on local streets as part of its plan to reduce traffic accidents and deaths.

  • Crews are also turning some intersections into all-way stops to encourage slower speeds and exploring strategies like speed tables to slow down drivers.

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