A $30K grant could help curb pedestrian deaths, injuries in DeKalb

About a third of crashes between 2014 and 2016 in DeKalb County involved pedestrians. County officials are hoping a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety will decrease the number of pedstrian accidents.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPIN@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPIN@AJC.COM

About a third of crashes between 2014 and 2016 in DeKalb County involved pedestrians. County officials are hoping a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety will decrease the number of pedstrian accidents.

Anthony Lingoes had just left the Trackside Tavern about 3 a.m. Feb. 2 when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Decatur police wouldn’t arrest Omari Young, the 39-year-old man accused in Lingoes’ killing, until Oct. 1 —  eight months after the fatal crash.

Lingoes’ death was just one of several pedestrian-related death and injuries reported in DeKalb County this year. But a $30,000 grant awarded to the county by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety could potentially reduce the number of pedestrian accidents in the county.

The grant will support a new initiative called Live Safe DeKalb, aimed at fostering safety behaviors in socio-economically disadvantaged residents who live in high risk areas for pedestrian injuries. Such areas include Buford Highway, Candler Road, Covington Highway, Wesley Chapel Road and Memorial Drive, where 63-year-old man was hit and killed last month outside the Memorial Bend Shopping Center.

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Rosalind Hill said areas such as this are prone to pedestrian crashes because they’re on busy streets that have several businesses. Hill, coordinator for health promotion and prevention at the DeKalb County Board of Health, said she specifically surveyed the Memorial Drive area to see why there are many pedestrian accidents.

“From what I could see there are crosswalks,” she said. “However, the length from one traffic light to another is long and they’re usually up or down a hill.”

Hill surveyed the lengthy road about 2 p.m. Monday and said the hilly streets combined with the pedestrian cross sections is a “a recipe for disaster.”

“It’s just a very busy area,” she said of Memorial Drive. “And instead of going to the light and crossing, some will take the chance and cross where they are.”

DeKalb, along with Fulton County, leads the state for the most fatal wrecks involving pedestrians, according to U.S. Department of Transportation numbers. A third of the 196 fatal wrecks involving vehicles in the county between 2014 and 2016 involved pedestrians, according to a data compiled by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

According to the DeKalb board of health, crashes are the cause of one in five deaths among residents in the county. A sixth of hospitalizations and emergency room visits are due to a crash, according to a 2015 DeKalb County status of health report.

Hill hopes the Live Safe DeKalb program will diminish those statistics.

“We’re in the planning stages,” she said, “but right now, we’re creating partnerships with the community so we can get an idea of specific needs.”

The program is expected to kick off in early 2019.

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