It’s less safe to be a pedestrian now than during past 40 years, study finds

In 2022, 342 pedestrians were killed on Georgia roads
A pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in April on I-20, just past the Downtown Connector. (John Spink /



A pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in April on I-20, just past the Downtown Connector. (John Spink /

Drivers hit and killed more than 7,500 pedestrians in 2022, including hundreds in Georgia, according to a recent study by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The busy streets and interstates in metro Atlanta are the scene of deadly crashes every week, according to investigators. But experts agree following safety rules, whether behind the wheel or while walking, could help prevent most deaths on the road.

“Every day, 20 people go for a walk and do not return home. These are people living their daily lives – commuting to and from school and work, picking up groceries, walking the dog, getting some exercise – who died suddenly and violently,” GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins said. “The saddest part is that these crashes are preventable. We know what works – better-designed infrastructure, lower speeds, addressing risky driving behaviors that pose a danger to people walking. We must do these things and more to reverse this awful trend and protect people on foot. Enough is enough.”

Over the weekend, two pedestrians were struck while attempting to report a vehicle crash on I-75 in Cobb County, according to Marietta police. The two had gotten out of their vehicle and became pedestrians, Officer Chuck McPhilamy said.

One of the pedestrians, 38-year-old Sarah Bolt of Monroe, died from her injuries. Bolt was a mother of five.

“Sarah had a very strong moral compass, very strong, and she would do what was right, " her aunt, Shannon Bullough Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “You see somebody who needs help, you help them, and that was what she did.”

In August, Sharletta Atterbury, 36, died after being struck by two vehicles on I-75 near Northside Drive in Fulton County, according to police. No information was available on why Atterbury was attempting to cross the interstate.

Earlier this summer, three pedestrians were killed within hours in metro Atlanta hit-and-run crashes, according to police.

Many times, drivers get distracted and don’t see the pedestrian, according to investigators. Pedestrians may also be at fault when not in crosswalks or when walking in dark areas.

“We assume that we are more capable of multi-tasking than we are,” McPhilamy said.

According to the GHSA study, pedestrian fatalities have jumped 77% since 2010, compared to 25% for all other traffic-related deaths. Last year’s tally was the highest since 1981, GHSA reported.

In Georgia, 79% of crashes involving pedestrians are the fault of the pedestrians, according to state DOT data. GDOT’s “See and Be Seen” campaign aims to reduce crashes on state roads.

The government agency works to do its part by improving medians, crosswalks and pedestrian signals, and adding lighting. But drivers and walkers must also do their parts, GDOT says.

Pay attention when walking or driving, the agency says. Walkers should make sure they are visible to others and drivers are urged to slow down and watch for others on the road.