As a personal injury lawyer, I’ve seen my fair share of cases involving accidents between pedestrians and drivers. In high-walkability areas like downtown Woodstock, where foot traffic is a common sight, ensuring the safety of both pedestrians and motorists is extremely important. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the laws regarding the right-of-way in Georgia and share valuable tips for staying safe in high-walkability zones.

Woodstock’s High Pedestrian Areas 

In downtown Woodstock, there are around 20 marked crosswalks, from Serenade Lane on the south side of Main Street, heading towards Highway 92) to the roundabout at Haney Walk, heading north towards Ridgewalk Parkway. Additional crosswalks exist on Towne Lake Parkway and Arnold Mill Road, making the area a highly sought-after destination for getting around on foot. The pedestrian signals are synchronized with the area’s traffic lights, allowing them to get from place to place efficiently and safely. 

Understanding Right-of-Way Laws in Georgia

In Georgia, right-of-way laws are designed to promote safety and order on the road, especially in areas with a high concentration of pedestrians. It’s crucial for both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of these laws to prevent accidents and potential legal consequences. Here’s a brief guide to who has the Right-of-Way in our state: 

  • Crosswalks: Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. This means that drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing or about to cross the road within these areas.
  • Traffic Signals: Pedestrians must obey traffic signals. When a pedestrian signal displays a “Walk” symbol, pedestrians have the right of way. Conversely, when the signal displays “Don’t Walk” or is flashing, pedestrians should not enter the crosswalk, and drivers have the right of way.
  • Turning Vehicles: When a driver makes a right or left turn at a red light or stop sign, pedestrians have the right-of-way if they are in or approaching the crosswalk.
  • Unmarked Crosswalks: In the absence of marked crosswalks, intersections are still considered crosswalks, and pedestrians have the right-of-way when crossing at these points.
  • School Zones: Extra caution should be exercised in school zones. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks, even if the pedestrian is not obeying the traffic signal.
  • Yield to Emergency Vehicles: When emergency vehicles with sirens and flashing lights approach, all drivers and pedestrians must yield the right-of-way and allow them to pass safely.

Tips for Pedestrian Safety in High-Walkability Areas

Now that we’ve covered some of Georgia’s right-of-way laws let’s delve into some essential safety tips for pedestrians in high-walkability areas. These include:  

  • Obey Traffic Signals: Always obey traffic signals and pedestrian crossing signs. Wait for the “Walk” signal before crossing, and do not enter the roadway when the signal indicates “Don’t Walk.”
  • Stay Visible: Make yourself visible to drivers, especially at night. Wear bright or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight when walking in low-light conditions.
  • Cross at Crosswalks: Use designated crosswalks and intersections when crossing the road. This is not only safer but also ensures you have the right-of-way.
  • Make Eye Contact: Before stepping into a crosswalk, try to make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you. Never assume a driver will yield the right-of-way.
  • Avoid Distractions: Put away your phone and other distractions while crossing the road. Being attentive to your surroundings is crucial for your safety.
  • Walk Facing Traffic: If there are no sidewalks, walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic. This allows you to see approaching vehicles and react accordingly.

Tips for Driver Safety in High-Walkability Areas

For drivers navigating high-walkability areas, here are some essential safety tips:

  • Yield to Pedestrians: Always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections. Be patient and allow them to cross safely.
  • Slow Down: Reduce your speed in high pedestrian areas, especially near schools, parks, and busy downtown streets. This gives you more time to react to unexpected situations. (Important Note: the posted speed limit in downtown Woodstock is 25 PMH.)
  • Avoid Distractions: Just like pedestrians, drivers should also avoid distractions like texting, eating, or adjusting the radio while driving.
  • Check Blind Spots: Before making a turn, check your blind spots for pedestrians, especially when turning right on a red light.
  • Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings and watch for pedestrians who may be crossing the road unexpectedly.

In high-walkability areas like ours, pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility between drivers and those on foot. Understanding right-of-way laws and following safety tips can go a long way in preventing accidents and ensuring everyone’s well-being. 

As a personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of experience serving the city of Woodstock and surrounding areas, my hope is that this guide will help both pedestrians and drivers stay safe and avoid the legal and personal consequences of accidents on our roads. Have questions? Reach out to schedule a conversation about a personal injury case.