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Hit By a Car? Pedestrian Right of Way Laws in GA

Adult and child in a crosswalk as car approaches

Even though fewer Americans drove during the pandemic, pedestrian deaths increased by 20% in the first half of 2020. With traffic at record-lows last year, how can this be?

It seems that with fewer cars on the road, drivers chose to increase dangerous behaviors, including speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, despite a 16.5% reduction in vehicle miles traveled, the rate of pedestrian deaths per billion miles rose from 1.8 deaths in 2019 to 2.2 deaths in 2020.

Even more troubling, pedestrian deaths have steadily increased over the past decade. In 2013, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 13% of traffic deaths. By 2019, they accounted for 17%.

Many deaths occur on local roads in poorly lit or dark areas away from intersections. This implies the need for safer crossings and improved lighting, particularly in lower-income communities.

Other factors include the types of vehicles involved in fatal collisions with a pedestrian, with SUVs topping the list as they become more commonplace on the road.

Walking or being near a roadway shouldn’t be a life-or-death situation. Drivers should be held responsible if their negligence or recklessness causes injury to someone walking or working on or near a road.

Georgia Right of Way for Pedestrians

When it comes to pedestrian safety, drivers should err on the side of caution. Even if a person is walking in an area that isn’t designated as a crosswalk, drivers should slow down or stop if necessary. Such actions may ultimately save a life.


When it comes to crosswalks, the Georgia Codes are clear on a pedestrian’s right of way and how drivers are to respond. Since 1995, drivers are required to stop (not yield) to a person walking inside a crosswalk. It is illegal to drive around, cut off, or squeeze by people in a crosswalk. It is also illegal for a driver to go around a car stopped at a crosswalk waiting for pedestrians to cross.

Likewise, pedestrians are not allowed to “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.” § 40-6-91 (b) Pay attention to your surroundings when walking near a busy street — always look both ways.

Crosswalk Signals

At some crosswalks, there are pedestrian-control signals that indicate via words or symbols when a person may WALK or DON’T WALK.

When a WALK message appears, pedestrians may cross the roadway in the direction of the signal. All drivers must stop and remain stopped for the person in the crosswalk.

A DON’T WALK message means a pedestrian cannot start crossing the road. Any pedestrian currently crossing is allowed to continue toward the sidewalk or safety island. The DON’T WALK symbol, whether flashing or steady, does not give drivers the right to proceed or turn right even if there’s a green light. All cars must wait, even on green, for a pedestrian to safely cross.


People often cross the middle of a street or highway. This is often referred to as “jaywalking” and many make the mistake of thinking it is illegal.

Jaywalking is not a legal term and it does not appear in the Georgia Code of laws. In most places, crossing the road outside of a crosswalk is perfectly legal as long as the pedestrian yields to traffic. Cars should yield to a pedestrian in the road if they have already walked into the middle of the road when it was safe to do so.

If there are crosswalks nearby at an intersection with traffic signals, pedestrians are required to use them. Pedestrians are also not allowed to cross an intersection diagonally unless authorized to do so by traffic-control measures.

Emerging From an Alley, Building, or Driveway

A driver must stop “immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area” before exiting an alley, building entrance, or business. § 40-6-144 They must yield right of way to any pedestrian on the sidewalk.

Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accidents

A hit-and-run accident includes when a driver strikes a person who was walking or riding a bicycle. It is against the law in Georgia to leave the scene of an accident, regardless of who had right of way. Drivers are required to stop and render aid in case a person is too injured to call for help themselves.

In 2016, Georgia ranked fourth in the U.S. for the most fatal hit-and-run crashes. About 60% of hit-and-run victims killed are bicyclists and pedestrians. Some die because the driver leaves the injured victim alone at the scene and they aren’t discovered in the critical time needed to provide life-saving aid.

What to Do If You’re Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident in Georgia

Accidents are scary enough while in a car. As a pedestrian or bicyclist, being hit by a car can leave you feeling disoriented and in pain. You may not have time or the ability to see who hit you before the vehicle flees the scene.

If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, use these steps:

  • Call 911 and wait for an ambulance and paramedics to examine you and tend to your wounds. If you don’t have a phone or can’t move, call out for help. Try to make yourself as visible as possible.
  • Write down or repeat to yourself what you remember about the vehicle and the driver that hit you. The license plate number and state are the most crucial pieces of information you can offer investigators.
  • Look around for witnesses. Ask other pedestrians and onlookers what they saw and get their contact information.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries.
  • Complete a police report and get a copy of it. The more information you can provide an officer, the shorter the search will be. Police are often successful in locating hit-and-run drivers.
  • Even if you aren’t taken to the emergency room, you should see your primary care doctor to protect your health and document your pain. Internal injuries such as concussions or whiplash may take one or more days to manifest.

Compensation After a Pedestrian Accident

If you’re hurt by an uninsured driver or the driver fled the scene and is never found, the recovery option available may be your own insurance coverage if you have uninsured motorist coverage.

Should the driver who caused your accident remain at the scene and you are able to communicate, ask for their name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information.

Make sure to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney before speaking with the insurance company for the person that hit you!

Pedestrian Crash Attorneys

If you were hit by a car, you may be asking yourself, “Now what?”

Talk to our pedestrian accident lawyers. Our highly skilled team of Atlanta personal injury lawyers can help find you the medical specialists needed to treat your injuries. We’ll stand up for your rights and work hard to get you all of the monetary compensation you need to recover.

After being struck by a car, you may be dealing with traumatic injuries such as a severe concussion, broken bones, soft tissue damage, or paralysis. The toll this can take on a person — financially, emotionally, and physically — can be overwhelming.

Don’t let the insurance companies get away with trying to find loopholes to deny you treatment or leave you with unimaginable amounts of debt.

Call (770) 934-8000 for a free consultation regarding your injury claim. Let Gary Martin Hays & Associates fight for the pedestrian accident settlement you are owed.

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