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Crashes in 2015
Carrollton, Georgia has more than its fair share of traffic accidents. They involve all types of situations, including single cars, multiple cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians. It is one of the most dangerous places in the state as far as traffic accidents go, and the sad thing is that most of these accidents have injuries involved. Why are there so many traffic accidents in Carrollton, and what is the city of Carrollton doing about it?
The problems in Carrollton come from several different factors. First, the entire state of Georgia is experiencing an epidemic of distracted driving. Second, there is not a lot of pedestrian traffic in Carrollton, so there are few places for people to walk safely, and drivers are not used to seeing people on foot. Third, the layout of the entrances and exits on Carrollton roads is designed poorly and encourages accidents simply from the way it pushes the flow of traffic.
Here are some examples of the poor design of Carrollton roads:
• On the big circular road in front of the University of West Georgia, there are only three ways in and out of the campus. (Jump to Campus photos below)
• There is only one off ramp in Carrollton, and it is located where all the large retail locations are, such as the Target and the Wal-Mart. (Jump to Retail photos below)
• All of the public schools in Carrollton are located just west of this one off ramp.
These road designs are ideal for mingling traffic with pedestrians and bicyclists, promoting rear-ending of other cars, and encouraging accidents of the side swipe variety as people try to merge into traffic from the only off ramp in town.
This is not a new problem for Carrollton. It has been going on for years. As traffic has increased in the town, the problem has only gotten worse. It is now common to hear of traffic accidents involving other cars, single cars, and pedestrians almost every day in Carrollton.
There is not a lot of traffic law enforcement going on in Carrollton, either. It is common to see cars fly through red lights, and rev their engines to speed through a light as soon as it turns green. Police are rarely seen doing anything to stop this behavior.
The area around the University of West Georgia is a particularly dangerous area when it comes to traffic accidents. There is a pedestrian entrance to the university that consists of a crosswalk and a yellow “yield” sign. In general, drivers in Carrollton do not yield on this street unless someone is actually in the middle of the street on the crosswalk; they tend to keep going if the walkers are on the sides of the road, or just beginning to cross. Even if a driver does see and decide to yield for a pedestrian on the crosswalk here, the distracted driving epidemic means that there is often not enough time for the driver to stop for the pedestrian if they have not been paying attention to the road. Also, most drivers will not stop to let a pedestrian cross; the pedestrian has to wait for the car. In addition, there is a new crosswalk on campus between the bookstore and the TLC building. This crosswalk goes between the campus and a large parking lot. Drivers coming out of the parking lot have shown they are willing to ignore the crosswalk and the people on it. Neither of the crosswalks near the university are safe as pedestrian crossings.
How much is a life worth? Would it be worth the cost of investing in blinking safety signs and flashing crosswalks, along with the enforcement necessary to make them effective?
There are no clear notification signals at these crosswalks. It isn’t useful for either pedestrians or drivers to rely on only signs to let them know what to do. The installation of traffic signals at these crosswalks, and at others in town, would go a long way toward preventing injuries and saving lives. While the campus crosswalks are notoriously dangerous, none of the other crosswalks in town are any safer. They just get less actual pedestrian use. With all of the distractions drivers have in their cars, from entertainment devices to phones, and the fast speeds people are used to using when they drive, trying to keep pace with a modern lifestyle that says they have to get where they’re going quickly, it is easy for a driver to not see a pedestrian until it is too late to stop for them. The driver may not have even seen the yield sign. If there were traffic lights, it would cut down on accidents, because drivers are conditioned to pay more attention to them than to a mere sign. They notice lights. They often do not notice signs at all.
The city of Carrollton is doing very little to try to change these dangerous road conditions. Installing lights, as well as crosswalk buttons to activate flashing yellow lights to alert drivers that someone is crossing, costs money the city does not seem willing to spend. Traffic lights and flashing crosswalk lights act as visual reminders to drivers, and they save lives. The city of Boulder, Colorado had a similar problem to Carrollton, and improved it by implementing these measures. It was effective for Boulder, and it can be effective for Carrollton if the city leaders would invest the money in it. With their knowledge of the dangerous road conditions in Carrollton, their reluctance to do anything about it is baffling.
Not only that, but the only traffic enforcement going on in Carrollton seems to be seat belt enforcement. It seems a waste of police resources to just go after people who are not wearing their seat belts, instead of the ones who fly through crosswalks…especially the crosswalks that are being used by pedestrians. These drivers get to go free, while those who are not wearing seat belts, which really only affects the person not wearing it, are ticketed. If Carrollton is willing to spend money on targeting and ticketing drivers without seat belts, they should be willing to spend money on improving crosswalks and enforcing traffic laws around them. This would save far more lives than mere seat belt enforcement. It is a confusing display of Carrollton’s priorities, and where the city chooses to spend its money. It makes it seem like pedestrian lives are not that important to the city, especially when pedestrian safety could so easily be improved with a few simple changes.
The problem in Carrollton is part of a larger problem in the state of Georgia in general. In fact, Georgia law enforcement officials are calling traffic accidents an epidemic in Georgia, and a lot of those accidents do not have good endings for those involved in them.
There was a 25 percent increase in traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2015 in Georgia, compared to the first quarter of 2014. There are an average of 100 traffic fatalities a month in Georgia, which is one of the highest in the nation. The reasons for this increase are attributed to distracted driving, not watching out for pedestrians or bicyclists, and, just like in Carrollton, improper crossing of streets by pedestrians (often against the signal), and an epidemic of crosswalks without accompanying traffic signals.
There were 948 motor vehicle fatalities in Georgia in 2015. This is a 15 percent increase from the previous year, and 141 more deaths from traffic accidents than the previous year. Of these accidents, sixty percent are single car crashes. Police are also reporting that only 38 percent of people involved in fatal traffic accidents in Georgia were wearing seat belts. The number of drivers distracted by texting is sky high. Also, people are not following basic traffic laws anymore. The message of traffic safety the Georgia Department of Transportation has been selling is not getting through to today’s Georgia drivers.
Drivers are showing an uncaring attitude toward pedestrians and bicyclists. Cars aren’t giving the required three foot buffer to those on bicycles, for example, and pedestrians are often completely ignored. On the other side of the coin, bicyclists aren’t following the same traffic laws for cars, as they are required to do, and pedestrians are taking unnecessary risks, such as crossing against the light or outside of a crosswalk.
What is needed in Georgia in general, and Carrollton in particular, is a strong and loud campaign of traffic safety to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. More safety features, like lights, need to be installed in the right places. And, finally, enforcement of traffic laws needs to become more strict. These are the only things that will change the current driving environment in Georgia and Carrollton, and save the lives of people who dare to go on the roads there.
We refuse to stand by while our leaders recognize a dangerous condition and do littile to act on it. Cade Parian and The Parian Law Firm, LLC work hard everyday to fight for the rights of those who have been victimized by irresponsible parties. We expect the same from the people who have a responsibility to keep our roads safe.
Our firm is calling on local, county and state leaders to take action and rectify the dangerous situation on Carrollton’s roads, specifically on Maple St in front of the University of West Georgia.
Please take a minute to sign our petition for Carrollton representatives to take action and fix the dangerous and deadly intersections by adding crosswalk lights to each area.
The second entrance to the University
A pain point near Route 27 & Maple. (Hilarious Tip: Turn the map or look behind the current view. Notice the truck taking up 2 lanes in the left hand turn lane!)
Another bad intersection at 27 & 16.
The intersection of 27 & Central High Road