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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in Texas? - Pedestrian Accidents Guide

In the bustling streets of Texas, interactions between pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers are common. With such a dynamic mix, it becomes essential to understand the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

One crucial question often arises: Do pedestrians always have the right of way in Texas? The answer is more complex than most might think.

Overview of Pedestrian Accidents in Texas

Overview of Pedestrian Accidents in Texas

Pedestrian accidents happen all across the United States, and Texas is no exception. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 5,975 pedestrian crashes reported in the state in 2020, resulting in 1,317 fatalities and countless injuries.

These alarming figures emphasize the need for a comprehensive understanding of pedestrian rights and safety measures.

In Texas, traffic laws primarily govern pedestrian rights, which vary depending on various factors, including marked or unmarked crosswalks, motor vehicle drivers' actions, and traffic control signals.

The Marked or Unmarked Crosswalk - How It Makes a Difference

One significant factor to consider is the presence of marked or unmarked crosswalks. A marked crosswalk is typically indicated by painted lines or other visible markings on the road, clearly signaling the designated area for pedestrians to cross. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer questions like, "What are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents?"

In such cases, Texas law grants pedestrians the right of way in the crosswalk. Drivers are required to yield and allow pedestrians to safely cross the road to prevent a pedestrian accident.

However, it is essential to note that even without marked crosswalks, pedestrians still have the right of way. Texas law states that pedestrians have the right of way at an unmarked crosswalk, which is any point on the roadway where two sidewalks meet, regardless of whether or not there are visible markings.

In these situations, drivers are still obligated to yield to pedestrians and exercise proper precautions.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

Pedestrians in Texas have a significant responsibility to ensure their own safety and actively contribute to accident prevention. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for answer questions like, "What happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking in Texas?"

Although drivers are expected to yield to pedestrians and exercise caution, pedestrians must also adhere to certain guidelines and practices to minimize the risk of pedestrian collisions. Here are some key responsibilities that pedestrians in Texas should keep in mind:

Obey Traffic Laws and Signals

They must obey when there is a traffic control signal present, such as traffic lights and pedestrian crossing signals. Pedestrians should only cross the road when instructed, typically when the signal indicates "Walk" or displays a walking figure.

It is important to wait for a safe opportunity to cross and avoid entering the roadway when a traffic control device indicates "Don't Walk" or displays a red hand symbol.

Use Designated Crosswalks

Whenever possible, pedestrians should use designated crosswalks to cross the road. Crosswalks are typically marked by painted lines or other visible indications on the road, signaling a safe area for pedestrians to cross. Using crosswalks helps drivers anticipate pedestrian movement and increases visibility.

Stay Visible

Pedestrians should make themselves visible to drivers, especially during low-light conditions or at night.

Wearing bright or reflective clothing and using reflective accessories can significantly enhance visibility. It is also advisable to make eye contact with drivers before crossing to ensure they see and acknowledge the pedestrian's presence.

Be Alert and Attentive

They should also remain attentive and avoid distractions that could impede their ability to safely navigate the road.

Distractions such as using cell phones, listening to loud music through headphones, or being engrossed in conversations can limit awareness of the surrounding environment and increase the risk of accidents. Staying focused on the road and being aware of approaching vehicles is crucial.

Walk Against Traffic When Necessary

In situations with no sidewalks or pedestrian paths, pedestrians should walk facing oncoming traffic. This allows them to see approaching vehicles and react accordingly, enhancing their safety by maintaining awareness of potential hazards.

Avoid Sudden Movements

Pedestrians should avoid sudden movements that could surprise drivers or disrupt traffic flow. Entering the roadway without giving drivers adequate time to react can lead to dangerous situations.

It is important to wait for an appropriate traffic gap before crossing and maintain a steady and predictable pace while crossing.

Use Extra Caution Around Parked Vehicles

People should be cautious when walking near parked vehicles, as drivers may not immediately see them when exiting or entering their vehicles. Staying alert and keeping a safe distance from parked cars can help avoid unexpected incidents.

Educate Children About Pedestrian Safety

Parents and guardians have a crucial role in teaching children about pedestrian safety. Children should be educated about the importance of using crosswalks, looking both ways before crossing, and following traffic signals. Supervising young children near roadways and reinforcing safe pedestrian behavior is also essential.

Motor Vehicle Drivers' Responsibilities

Motor vehicle drivers in Texas are responsible for prioritizing safety and taking necessary precautions to prevent accidents involving pedestrians. Here are some key responsibilities that drivers should keep in mind:

Yield to Pedestrians

Texas law mandates that drivers must always allow pedestrians to cross at marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Drivers must be vigilant and attentive, especially in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, such as school zones or residential neighborhoods. Always be prepared to stop and yield when necessary.

Maintain a Safe Speed

Drivers must adhere to posted speed limits and adjust their speed according to road and weather conditions.

Excessive speed reduces reaction time and increases the severity of accidents. Slowing down in areas with a high likelihood of pedestrian presence, such as near crosswalks or crowded downtown areas, can help prevent collisions.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving poses a significant risk to pedestrians and other road users. Drivers must refrain from using cell phones, texting, eating, or engaging in any other activity that diverts their attention from the road.

Keeping both hands on the wheel and focusing on driving helps ensure quick response times and better overall awareness.

Scan the Road and Surroundings

Drivers should regularly scan the road ahead, paying particular attention to intersections, crosswalks, and areas where pedestrians could be present.

Remaining alert to potential pedestrian movement and anticipating their actions can help prevent accidents. Continuous scanning of blind spots, especially when turning or changing lanes, is also crucial to ensure pedestrian safety.

Exercise Caution During Turns

When making turns at intersections, drivers must exercise caution and yield to pedestrians with the right of way.

This includes both right and left turns. They should always check for pedestrians in the crosswalk and wait until they have safely crossed before proceeding with the turn.

Be Patient and Respectful

Drivers should practice patience and respect toward pedestrians. Avoid honking aggressively, tailgating, or behaving in a manner that intimidates or endangers pedestrians. Creating a safe and respectful environment for all road users, including pedestrians, is important.

Look Out for Vulnerable Pedestrians

Motor vehicle drivers should be especially mindful of vulnerable pedestrians, such as children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and individuals using mobility aids.

These individuals require more time to cross the road and tend to struggle to navigate traffic. Drivers should exercise extra caution and provide them with ample time and space to cross safely.

Follow School Zone Regulations

When driving through school zones, drivers must adhere to reduced speed limits and exercise heightened caution due to the presence of children.

It is important to be aware of school zone timings and comply with specific rules and regulations to ensure pedestrians' safety, particularly young students.

The Role of Traffic Control Signals

The Role of Traffic Control Signals

Traffic control signals also play a significant role in determining pedestrian right of way. In Texas, if a special pedestrian control signal is present, pedestrians must obey the signals and cross the road only when instructed.

When facing a green traffic control signal, pedestrians have the right of way to cross the road, while drivers must yield. However, when the official traffic control signal indicates "Don't Walk" or displays a red hand symbol, pedestrians must allow the motor vehicles to drive before crossing the road to avoid a pedestrian accident.

Exceptions to the Rule

It is important to understand that although pedestrians generally have the right of way, there are exceptions to this rule. Texas law states that pedestrians must be careful when crossing roads and only do so when they are 100% sure no vehicles will get in the way.

If they fail to do this, drivers could not have sufficient time to yield, and pedestrians must exercise caution and yield to the approaching vehicles. Nonetheless, a Texas pedestrian accident attorney can make these exceptions easier to understand, as they know very well the Texas transportation code.

Making Roadways More Safe

In conclusion, whether pedestrians always have the right of way in Texas is not a simple yes or no. Although pedestrians generally have the right of way, both pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers must understand and adhere to the traffic laws governing their interactions.

Whether it is at marked or unmarked crosswalks, motor vehicle drivers must yield to pedestrians, and pedestrians must exercise caution and obey traffic control signals.

Promoting awareness, responsible behavior, and mutual respect can create safer streets for everyone in Texas.

However, it is also true that those involved in a pedestrian collision are entitled to financial compensation, which can only be obtained by filing a personal injury claim. Therefore, the best thing to do after a pedestrian accident is to hire a personal injury lawyer from Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to go to war for them.


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