Digging Deeper: Georgia jaywalking laws - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Georgia jaywalking laws

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A Georgia woman whose child was killed last year in a hit-and-run accident, will get a new trial to try to clear her name.

These are photos of Raquel Nelson and her 4-year old son A-J. He was killed when he ran into a street and was struck by a hit and run driver. Nelson was accused of putting her children in danger by jaywalking and was convicted of three misdemeanors.

Tuesday, A judge sentenced Nelson to one year probation and some community service but then offered her a new trial.

"I'd like to thank everyone. I'd really like to thank everybody for your concern and support and helping get the message out there and hopefully we can move on from the situation," said Raquel Nelson.

Authorities did catch the driver who pleaded guilty to hit-and-run. He served six-months of a five-year prison sentence.

So what is the law when it comes to pedestrians? Do they always have the right of way? You may be surprised by what we found out.

Let's face it getting across the street is an easy concept, but we don't always do it safely. In downtown Albany we found pedestrians, not 50 feet from the crosswalk, jaywalking, or walking out of the crosswalk before they reach the curb. If there's a crosswalk in sight you're required to use it and pedestrians may be surprised to learn who's got the right of way.

"Do you think pedestrians have the right of way?" we questioned. 

"Not in Albany they don't," said pedestrian Albert Campbell.

"A lot of times, the pedestrian just thinks because they're the pedestrian they have the right of way, unless they meet certain requirements, they do not have the right of way at all points in time," said Cpl. Jon Segroves, Albany Police Special Operations/Traffic.

Digging deeper we found the most dangerous place to cross is at a cross walk mid-block, not an intersection with signals. There were 25 pedestrian crashes in Albany last year alone, just three happened inside crosswalks, an alarming sign to traffic engineers.

"People are not using them correctly and most people will want to cross the street where ever they are," said Randy Casagrande, Traffic Engineering Manager.

So we questioned law enforcement what is the proper way to handle yourself as you approach a crosswalk?

"What you need to do is stop and look for any on coming traffic, make sure that that traffic sees you before you enter into the roadway and they once they stop, it's marked there's lanes there, stay inside those lanes until you clear the curb on the other side," said Cpl. Segroves.

Georgia's jaywalking laws are tough and the penalties if there is a crash can be up to a year in jail and fines. Albany Police say it all comes down to safety and will be even more important next week as school starts.

"The kids will be crossing the roads there with school buses, that's one of the things you need to pay attention to, but some of them will be crossing the roads trying to get back and forth to school things of that nature," said Cpl. Segroves.

It's a warning to motorists to be on guard for someone darting out between cars and a warning for pedestrians who do, that you could be held responsible if you do and cause a crash.

Albany traffic engineers say they update crosswalks across the city each year. They use a white thermoplastic to make crosswalks more visible to both pedestrians and motorists.

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