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Georgia Among States Setting Higher Pedestrian Death Targets

Crosswalk and buildings in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

Loophole removes restriction on federal funds

According to Smart Growth America, Georgia ranks ninth for highest per capita pedestrian deaths in the United States. It seems natural to set a goal to reduce fatalities. But for 2024, the state has set a formal federal goal to increase the number of expected pedestrian deaths. It has to do with federal funds and how they are spent. 

From 2018-2022, there were 1,428 deaths in pedestrian accidents in Georgia. That’s a roughly 40% increase from 2013-2017, when there were 1,018 deaths.  

Per capita, Georgia has a pedestrian death rate of 2.66 deaths per 100,000 people each year.  

Georgia is one of thirteen states setting a 2024 target of vulnerable road user deaths and serious injuries that is actually higher than the number of casualties recorded in previous years. The reasoning behind this strategy is to gain more flexibility with federal funds.  

Under federal law, state transportation officials are required to report how many lives they expect to save in the year ahead. This gives state departments of transportation access to federal Highway Safety Improvement Program dollars, which can be used to improve infrastructure on all roads. 

An incentive to set higher targets for pedestrian deaths 

If communities don’t reach their targets, they must submit a plan to do better the following year. They are also required to spend a certain amount of the money they receive from the federal government toward safety, rather than shifting it to other uses.  

Setting higher targets gives states a better chance of beating their targets, freeing them from the spending restrictions.  

"I definitely don't think anyone wants people to die on our roadways," explained Heidi Simon, Smart Growth America's director of thriving communities. "But I think what these targets show is what kinds of commitments states are willing to make to address pedestrian safety against other competing priorities — and what funds and leadership they're willing to put behind them." 

It sends a message that transportation officials in those states won’t hold themselves accountable for their role in the death of pedestrians, she notes. That’s why she wants Congress to close the loophole.  

“I don't think there's any defensible reason to set targets that show an increase in fatalities,” Simon added. “And I definitely don't think it's defensible that a majority of states set their 2024 fatality targets above 2014 [actual fatality] levels. They're not even aiming to make enough progress to get us back to where we were 10 years ago — let alone now.”

Common causes of pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian accidents are often the result of negligent actions by drivers and other parties, including:

Distracted driving

Drivers using cell phones, adjusting the radio, or engaging in other distractions can easily overlook pedestrians, leading to accidents.


Excessive speed reduces a driver's reaction time and increases the severity of collisions with pedestrians, often resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.

Failure to yield

Many pedestrian accidents occur when drivers fail to yield the right-of-way at crosswalks or intersections, disregarding traffic signals and pedestrian laws.

Impaired driving

Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs have impaired judgment and reaction times, significantly increasing the risk of pedestrian accidents.

Running red lights and stop signs

Ignoring traffic signals and stop signs can lead to dangerous situations where pedestrians are struck while crossing the street.

Poor visibility

Low visibility conditions, such as nighttime, fog, or heavy rain, can make it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians, especially if they are not paying close attention to the road.

Left and right turns

Drivers making left or right turns at intersections often focus on oncoming traffic and may not notice pedestrians crossing the street.

Backing up

Drivers reversing out of driveways or parking spots without adequately checking for pedestrians can cause serious accidents.

Unsafe lane changes

Abrupt or careless lane changes can catch pedestrians off guard, especially if they are crossing multiple lanes of traffic.

An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can fight for you 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by a driver’s negligence in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia, it’s crucial to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.

At the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C., pedestrian accidents are some of the most difficult cases our attorneys handle. The victims often suffer severe and sometimes life-threatening injuries. That's why we’re committed to making our roads safer by holding negligent drivers accountable and helping victims recover the maximum financial compensation they deserve.

Our lawyers know how to build strong cases that insurance companies have to take seriously. We’re proud of the results we’ve obtained for clients who were injured in pedestrian accidents. These results include:  

  • $3.25 million settlement for policy limits.
  • $1.125 million settlement for policy limits.
  • $1 million settlement for policy limits.

Learn about your legal options and get answers to your questions during a free consultation. Contact us today to set up a time that works for you. 

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