How safe do you feel walking inside the painted white lines of a crosswalk? Like most pedestrians, you probably feel secure. Harm is the last thing on your mind. You look both ways, then assume the coast is clear. But the truth is that pedestrian accidents can happen with little warning.
Macon residents and officials are particularly concerned with Gray Highway, according to 13WMAZ. Six pedestrians have been hit and killed by cars in Macon-Bibb County since January. Go back to 2014, and the number is 38 pedestrian fatalities.
Tom Ellington, the chairman of the Macon-Bibb Pedestrian Safety Review Board, said: "It's heartbreaking, it's not just frustrating, because that's three lives lost over the weekend. We have embraced the goal of 'Vision Zero,' which is to have zero pedestrian fatalities in Macon and Bibb County and obviously we are not there yet."
Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for everyone. First started in Sweden in the late 1990s, the program has proven to be successful in Europe and now has been implemented in more than 300 cities and counties in the United States. The goal is to eradicate traffic fatalities by 2024.
Violet Poe of Bibb’s Pedestrian Safety Review Board says the plan there is to educate in areas with high pedestrian fatality numbers. Flashing armbands and safety cards are distributed to people in the area. The county’s effort is getting more than $20,000 from the Governor’s Office for Public Safety.
Poe said the death rate from pedestrian accidents is the second-highest in the state and that “Saving lives is my top priority.’’
Updating Sidewalks, Following Traffic Laws
Macon is a pedestrian town, but not everyone follows the law. Dezmond Flournoy, who works at Fincher’s Bar-B-Q, says he sees people jaywalk every day.
“It just kills me to see how people just walk across the street with no hesitation and don’t think about it,’’ he said.
Ellington added: “We have a situation here where there are a lot of people who are in poverty who may not have their own vehicles and who are dependent on where they can get on foot.’’
There are other factors, too, he noted, including updating sidewalks and crosswalks.
“The goal is to protect pedestrians,’’ Ellington said. “The most vulnerable people out there are pedestrians, because we don’t have a wall of metal around us. We’re flesh and blood, and at a moderate to high speed, a crash with a vehicle will kill.’’
Captain Brad Wolfe with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office said about half the pedestrian deaths his office has investigated during the last four years are because the victims have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but also noted that areas of Macon have a lack of lighting and sidewalks.
In the event that you or a loved one sustains an injury, contact the Law Offices of Jon R. Hawk, Sr., LLC in Macon.