Some people know they are committing a crime. Others don’t even realize it.
Four pedestrians killed in Columbus this year — two on Veterans Parkway near 24th Street; one on Victory Drive; and one downtown.
The two most relevant pieces of Georgia Code 40-6-92 state:
— “Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
— “No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices. When authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.”
News 3 spent some time downtown Tuesday morning, and time and again people jaywalked. While Columbus Chief Assistant Public defender Steve Craft was explaining the law in an on-camera interview, a woman jaywalked right behind us.
Craft noted it.
“Jaywalking is crossing a street between intersections or not at a crosswalk,” he started. “Exactly like that. It started in the street and crossed against the red light. That’s jaywalking.”
Amanda Free, who was downtown for a lunch meeting, was one of the people who jaywalked in front of the News 3 cameras.
“It wasn’t an intentional thing, but I think afterward I just recognized that, ‘I just jaywalked, and I didn’t think about it being necessarily a problem,'” she said. “Although, yeah, I know jaywalking is against the law. It’s kind of a cultural thing that has been accepted down here for so long.”
One of the reasons people violate the law is they don’t understand it – or worse yet they ignore it.
Police have been writing tickets downtown, along Second Avenue and up Veterans Parkway, Lt. Lance Deaton said. The ticket, if caught, costs violators $200.64.
Many of the tickets downtown were while police were investigating the accident that killed W.D. Feeney on April 4. The Columbus State University student was hit by a dump truck as he attempted to cross 11th Street in his wheelchair. Earlier this week, police concluded that Feeney was illegally in the crosswalk when he was struck.
“As we were downtown working on that thing and doing the reconstruction, what we found was people were disregarding the signal at the crosswalks right in our presence,” Deaton said. “And that was a clear indicator to us that we needed to do something about that. They were entering the roads and just crossing without considering there are signals and lights to regulate that for their own safety.”