I often represent the familes who have lost loved ones in car wrecks on Metro Atlanta roads. It is always a painful time as they share with me the details of their loved one’s death. Last night’s killing of two teenagers by a distracted driver must be one of the worst things these two families have ever gone through and my heart goes out to them. Last night two teenagers were killed while walking in the emergency lane of Georgia Highway 138 in Stockbridge, Clayton County, Georgia. A third teen was struck in the same collision and remains hospitalized in critical condition.
We all know by now that texting while driving (TWD) is illegal. But there is strong evidence that simply talking on a cell phone while driving is just as distracting. In the Clayton County collision last night, the at-fault driver apparently was arguing with her husband on the phone. This argument or “conversation” was distracting enough to cause her to leave the laned highway, go into the emergency lane and strike three pedestrians, hard enough to kill two and seriously injure one. What in the world is going on here in Georgia with distracted driving? This is a problem that should worry us all, whether we’re in another car or pedestrians.
The hitting of pedestrians in Atlanta and Georgia has become all too commonplace. Just two weeks ago a man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for vehicular homocide in striking and killing a pedestrian in Carroll County, Georgia. Earlier this month a Georgian citizen who was a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car on Savannah Highway. Most of us have heard about the mother in Cobb County whose child was struck and killed as a pedestrian crossing busy Austell Road and the Cobb County District Attorney proscecuted the mother for vehicular homocide, even though she and her children were pedestrians.
Statistics show that nationally, from 2000-2009, 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, that’s nearly 400 deaths a month. In addition, 688,000 pedestrians were injured during those years. Unfortunately, Georgia ranks 10th in the United States for danger to pedestrians. Between 2000 and 2009 1,545 people were killed while walking in Georgia, which cost the state $6.64 billion. Reducing pedestrian fatalities just 10% would have saved Georgia $664.35 million over 10 years. Georgia’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 102.9, which ranks 10th out of 50 states.
Keep in mind these are all preventable deaths. This is way too high of a death rate for Georgia pedestrians. The Georgia Legislature needs to address this epidemic of pedestrian deaths in our state. You shouldn’t die in Georgia just trying to cross the street.