Metro county cracking down on people illegally crossing busy roads

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News was with DeKalb County police Friday night as they spoke with people who were illegally crossing busy roads.

The department told Channel 2's Matt Johnson they are trying to cut down on an alarming number of pedestrian deaths.

DeKalb police said they had their sixth pedestrian death of the year on Thursday.

With so many hotels and gas stations along Memorial Drive, police picked the busy road to start a campaign Friday night that seems obvious, but police say something has to be done.

Johnson was with DeKalb County police officers as they watched person after person illegally cross Memorial Drive.

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Instead of giving citations, the officers were there to give lifesaving advice.

“I want to encourage you to use the pedestrian crosswalk,” one of the officers told the man he stopped from walking across the road.

Police said 29 people died last year in DeKalb County after being hit by cars. Statewide, 253 people died in 2017 -- the last year where the state numbers are available.

That number has gone up every year from 2014, when there were 163 deaths.

Police are sharing those statistics with the people they see not using crosswalks.

“The first reaction was, ‘Wow. I didn’t know,” said DeKalb police Lt. Gregory Vanderpool.

Vanderpool gave Johnson exclusive access to his strategic traffic enforcement and patrol unit during this awareness campaign.

He said many of the people killed put themselves in unnecessary danger.

“We see people are wearing dark clothing when they’re crossing the roadway late at night,” Vanderpool said.

Friday's campaign is a partnership with the DeKalb County Board of Health.

A $30,000 grant from the state is also helping fund outreach to areas where car crashes are most likely to happen.

“With motor vehicles of course being an issue throughout the state of Georgia, pedestrian safety really is the top priority,” said Rosalind Hill with the DeKalb County Board of Health.

For Vanderpool, he said this isn't just a one-time thing, it's going to be more a part of everyday patrols.

“We're going to be out here, enforcing pedestrians in crosswalks, throughout the year,” Vanderpool said.

Up next for other campaigns this year: Buford Highway, Covington Highway and Moreland Avenue.