Georgia pedestrian driving laws set clear parameters for the rights and responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians. The purpose of these rules is to keep pedestrians safe since the human body can suffer severe injuries when struck by a motor vehicle.

In 2015, 193 Georgia pedestrians lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. That is 13 percent of all people killed in Georgia crashes, including drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Nationwide, 5,376 pedestrians died, and nearly 129,000 had to get treatment at an emergency room for their motor vehicle accident injuries in 2015.

What Must Drivers Do at Crosswalks in Georgia?

Drivers must follow these crosswalk laws when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk:

  • Stop behind the crosswalk. If you come to a stop with your vehicle partly in the crosswalk or blocking the crosswalk, you force the pedestrian to step into the intersection, exposing the pedestrian to the risk of getting hit by another vehicle. Also, if you do not stop behind the crosswalk, you will obstruct other drivers traveling the same direction as you from seeing the pedestrian.
  • Remain stopped until the pedestrian has reached the other sidewalk. You may not proceed just because the pedestrian has cleared your lane. You must not pass a vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian.
  • Yield right of way to a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk, whether marked or unmarked.

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

No, they do not. Pedestrians must follow the rules of the road and obey all traffic signs and signals.

  • Georgia law forbids pedestrians from crossing the roadway where there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing. A pedestrian who is “jaywalking” must yield right of way to all vehicles unless the walker has already begun to cross the road under safe conditions.
  • Pedestrians may not leap suddenly from the sidewalk into oncoming traffic. If a pedestrian walks or runs into the path of a vehicle that cannot safely stop in time, the driver is not at fault.

Can a Driver Be Liable for Hitting a Pedestrian Who Did Not Follow the Rules of the Road?

Yes. You do not have a license to hit a pedestrian who is breaking the law. If you strike a pedestrian who is violating the law, but you could have stopped in time, you are at fault. Even if a walker is improperly in the roadway, drivers have these duties under Georgia law:

  • Maintain a careful lookout and exercise due care to avoid hitting any pedestrian at any time.
  • Sound your horn when necessary.
  • Be extra careful around children or people who appear confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated.
  • Always yield right of way to any blind pedestrian with a guide dog or who is carrying a walking stick or cane that is white, or red and white.

What Do Pedestrian Crossing Signals Mean?

There are three pedestrian crossing signals. They are:

  • WALK. When the pedestrian traffic signal displays this message, pedestrians can leave the curb to cross the street.
  • DON’T WALK (orange). Pedestrians cannot step into the roadway to cross the street when this message is showing.
  • DON’T WALK (red). If the pedestrian has already started to cross the street, he can proceed to the other side. A pedestrian may not begin to cross the street when this signal is flashing in red.

How Do You Determine Liability in a Pedestrian Accident?

The law will determine who is at fault in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident by balancing the rights and responsibilities of the driver and the pedestrian. We will investigate your accident to learn the facts of the case and determine the liability.

If the driver broke the law, the driver would be at fault, unless there is sufficient justification or excuse for what the driver did. If the pedestrian did not follow the rules of the road, the walker could be at fault, unless the situation falls within one of the exceptions. In many cases, both the driver and the pedestrian are at fault, and Georgia comparative negligence applies, such as when a driver who is texting hits a jaywalking pedestrian.

If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident, the personal injury team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. can help. Call us at 404-474-0804 today to set up your free consultation.

Jason R. Schultz
Helping Georgia area residents with car accident, medical malpractice, and personal injury claims since 1991.