Electronic maps such as those provided by MapQuest, Google and portable GPS devices are a great way to avoid getting lost in unfamiliar areas. Even pedestrians with cell phones can download maps as they walk. However, a pedestrian accident lawsuit filed last month in Utah shows the value of double checking electronic directions.
In January, Lauren Rosenberg was hit by a car while walking down a busy street in Park City, Utah, a ski town located outside Salt Lake City. She had used her BlackBerry to download directions from Google Maps.
The map took Rosenburg onto Utah State Route 224, a busy rural highway without sidewalks. Rosenberg was hit by a car and incurred over $100,000 in medical bills after the pedestrian accident.
Rosenberg is filing a lawsuit against Google for her medical costs and an unspecified amount of punitive damages because she believes the road was not suitable for pedestrians and that Google is at fault for her accident.
Pedestrians who look up GoogleMap directions on their computers usually receive the warning “Walking directions are in beta. Use caution -- This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.” However, the warnings do not appear on cell phones and Blackberries.
The incident is a reminder that pedestrians need to use their heads as well as their computers. If a street does not look safe, there are usually alternate routes. Common sense can go a long way to keeping you safe on Atlanta streets.
• Stay off freeways and restricted zones.
• Use sidewalks where provided.
• If there is no sidewalk, it is usually safer to walk facing road traffic.
• Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.
• Make it easy for drivers to see you - dress in light colors and wear retro-reflective material. Carry a flashlight in very dark areas.
• Make eye contact with drivers and wait for them to signal to be sure they see you.
• Use extra caution when crossing multiple-lane, higher speed streets.