Nov 20, 2023

38 Reasons Why

The number of pedestrians killed by car drivers in the City of Atlanta is seeing a shocking rise!

Propel ATL

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The number of pedestrians killed by car drivers in the City of Atlanta is seeing a shocking rise, one that is even more dramatic than an already tragic national trend. The nation experienced 7,508 people killed while walking in 2022, up from 7,443 in 2021. This continued a troubling surge that started in 2020, according to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Unfortunately, on Atlanta roadways, pedestrian deaths continue an upward trajectory. Overall traffic fatality rates are already high when compared to peer cities.

In 2022, over 35,000 crashes occurred on Atlanta streets.

548 of these crashes involved people walking, biking, and rolling.

38 of these crashes resulted in the deaths of people walking.

Pedestrian fatalities are rising at an alarming rate in the City of Atlanta. The 38 pedestrian deaths in 2022 represent an increase of 23% over 2021, despite a drop in people killed in car crashes overall. Since 2020, pedestrian deaths have increased by an alarming 52%. The graph below shows the overall rising trend of traffic fatalities inside Atlanta city limits as well as pedestrian fatalities over the last ten years.

Data source: GDOT Numetric, 2022.

The trend lines in this chart illustrate the five-year rolling average of fatalities for all forms of transportation and for pedestrians. Rates of both are increasing over the last five years, even when accounting for outlier years with an unusually high or low number of crashes.

No people were killed while biking in the City of Atlanta in 2022. While potential reasons are complex, one explanation may include the expansion of bicycle infrastructure, which makes trips safer for cyclists.

Atlanta City Council Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 — which cover or include at least part of Downtown or Midtown — have the most commuters who walk to work, as illustrated in the chart below.

Data source: City of Atlanta, Council Districts at a Glance, 2020.

A majority of bicycle and pedestrian crashes occur in Downtown and Midtown, where more people walk and bike; however, pedestrian crash rates are lowest in these districts.

However, the crash rates worsen in districts farther from the city center. In District 12, which includes a broad swath of south Atlanta bordering East Point and Hapeville and includes Metropolitan Parkway, two out of every 10 people walking get hit by the drivers of vehicles.

Not only are pedestrians in Council Districts 9, 11, and 12 more likely to be hit by a car, they are also more likely to die walking in these districts. The number of pedestrian crashes and fatalities within each district is shown in the chart below.

Data sources: City of Atlanta, Council Districts at a Glance, 2020. GDOT Numetric, 2022.

Several council districts with high pedestrian crash rates are predominantly made up of Black residents. Over two-thirds of pedestrian fatalities occurred in predominantly Black neighborhoods (25 out of 38 fatalities).

In addition, 32 pedestrian fatalities (84%) occurred in neighborhoods with high poverty rates. 15 fatalities (39%) occured in neighborhoods where over 30% of the population lives in poverty.

These trends highlight a glaring disparity in Atlanta's pedestrian safety: People walking in Black neighborhoods or in low-income communities are more likely to lose their lives to traffic violence. These same neighborhoods also tend to have fewer roadway features like sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes that keep people safe when traveling outside of cars.

38% of bicycle and pedestrian crashes occurred on state routes. These roads are owned and maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). These roads tend to be high-speed roadways with few sidewalks or bike lanes.

Data source: GDOT Numetric, 2022. Atlanta Regional Commission GIS.

60% of bicycle and pedestrian crashes occurred on the City of Atlanta's High Injury Network (HIN), a network of streets with high numbers of fatal and serious injury crashes. The network is composed of less than 10% of streets in Atlanta, yet accounts for more than 50% of all pedestrian fatalities. More information about the HIN is available in the City of Atlanta Vision Zero Action Plan .

Data sources: City of Atlanta, Vision Zero Action Plan, 2023. GDOT Numetric, 2022.

63% of pedestrian fatalities occurred on roadways that didn't have sidewalks. Sidewalks provide pedestrians a safe place to walk away from vehicles. On roadways without sidewalks, people often have to walk in the street, putting them at greater risk of being hit by vehicles.

Data sources: Atlanta Regional Commission GIS. GDOT Numetric, 2022.

(Half of pedestrian fatalities on roadways without sidewalks took place on Interstates and 46% were on other state routes.)

There are currently 40 Moving Atlanta Forward projects that could improve roadway safety on streets where pedestrian or bicycle crashes occurred in 2022. Notable projects include:

  • Peachtree Safe Street (21 bike/pedestrian crashes)
  • Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway Sidewalks (18 bike/pedestrian crashes)
  • Midtown Safe Street Corridor (11 bike/pedestrian crashes)
  • Ralph McGill / Ivan Allen Safe Street & Project Bike Lanes (10 bike/pedestrian crashes)
  • Courtland Dedicated Bus Lanes & Courtland / Piedmont Protected Bike Lanes (9 bike/pedestrian crashes)

29% of bicycle and pedestrian crashes were hit-and-runs, meaning the driver fled the scene. Hit-and-run crashes are most likely to be fatal due to the delay in seeking medical attention for the crash victim. They also increase the suffering of families affected. Georgia has the 4th most hit-and-run crashes nationally.

Data source: GDOT Numetric, 2022.

Most 2022 pedestrian fatalities took place at night. In fact, only 16% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in daylight. Nearly a quarter of all pedestrian fatalities occurred at night on streets that didn’t have lighting.

Data source: GDOT Numetric, 2022.

While streetlights are important for pedestrian safety, these trends indicate that streetlights alone cannot prevent crashes but instead must be accompanied by other roadway features that slow down vehicles and allow pedestrians to cross roadways safely.

When looking at the larger MARTA coverage area of Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton counties, we see similar trends: traffic fatalities, and in particular pedestrian deaths, are on the rise.

Data source: GDOT Numetric, 2022.

Here is what we know from media reports about 33 people who were struck and killed while trying to get someplace by foot in Atlanta in 2022. Many more people lost their lives to traffic violence in 2022; this summary is not comprehensive.

See also these detailed accounts of three individuals killed by cars in metro Atlanta:

Jerry Hood, age 70, who was remembered as a caring man with a great sense of humor, was struck and killed on Campbellton Road on Friday, February 4.

An unidentified man was struck and killed on Courtland Street on Friday, February 25.

Christopher Haley, age 54, was struck and killed at the intersection of Windsor Street and Eugenia Street on Sunday, March 13.

Donald Minter, Sr., affectionately known as “Duck,” age 57, was an Atlanta resident who was born in Americus, Georgia. He was struck and killed on Hollowell Parkway on Wednesday, August 31.

Devyn Norman, age 27, was struck and killed on I-75 on Sunday, September 4.

Brittany Glover, a vegan soul food truck entrepreneur who was just about to start a new career as a flight attendant, was struck and killed on Hollowell Parkway at age 33 on Monday, September 19. (See her story .)

Emanuel Biggs, a beloved member of First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta, was struck and killed while crossing Moreland Avenue on Monday, October 24. (See his story .)

An unidentified woman was struck and killed while using a crosswalk on Ted Turner Drive at Portman Blvd. on Friday, November 11.

Tavarius Ridgeway, a firefighter and a father, was struck and killed on Hollowell Parkway at age 37 on Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day.