Little six year old Christopher Cook became one of Atlanta's latest pedestrian fatalities when he let go of his older brother's hand and darted out onto Old National Highway on South Fulton where he was hit and killed by a SUV. The brothers were headed back from a visit to the local barber shop and waiting on a median to cross the busy road. Christopher's heartbroken mother thinks that more could be done to help pedestrians on these busy roads and to avoid her family's tragedy of losing a child.
While the rate of other traffic fatalities are dropping, pedestrian deaths are climbing due in part to concentration of people living on busy multi-lane roads, and lack of flashing lights, pedestrian "islands" and crosswalks for them to safely pass. The advocacy group PEDS says most of the deaths occur in older Atlanta's inner-ring suburbs. Since 2008, the number of pedestrian deaths rose an astonishing 20%. Some of the busiest roads in Atlanta are the most fatal for walkers: Buford Highway, South Cobb Drive, and Old National Highway. Interstates also take their share of victims.
12% of Georgia's pedestrian deaths occurred on area interstates like I-285 and I-85, frequently to drivers of disabled vehicles (and those drivers who've stopped to help) who are hit while getting out of their car or while standing on the side of the interstate.
State officials are constantly looking for hot spots to address but improvements and additions to roads are slow and costly. Some citizens don't want extra medians which prevent drivers from making left turns into businesses and some medians require community approval.
PEDS offers some winter pedestrian safety tips in their blog as well as reminders to be extra cautious this time of year due to increased foot traffic as well as more hours of darkness. It's a cooperation between drivers and pedestrians, common sense as well as ongoing safety improvements that can halt this rising pedestrian death rate in 2014.