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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Pedestrian Right of Way: When Does a Driver Have to Yield to a Pedestrian?

Every day in Dallas, Texas, people and cars work together in a complex coordination while navigating intersections, including both marked and unmarked crosswalks.


Though the traffic laws seem clear, confusion over the pedestrian right-of-way can have catastrophic consequences. Therefore, the Texas transportation code outlines when vehicles and pedestrians must yield to each other.


This article aims to clear the confusion surrounding pedestrian right-of-way rules in Texas, illuminating when drivers must hold back and when pedestrians must exercise caution.


Deepening this understanding is crucial to ensuring the safety of all road users, from school children crossing busy streets to blind pedestrians navigating unmarked intersections.


The Texas Right-of-way Laws and Regulations

The Texas Right-of-way Laws and Regulations


Pedestrian safety is a cornerstone of Texas transportation laws, with several regulations guiding both vehicle operators and pedestrians.


Drivers should always keep in mind the following essential things:

  • The need to concede the right-of-way to pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.

  • An obligation to stop when a pedestrian is crossing the street and nearing the driver's half of the road.

  • The requirement to yield to pedestrians crossing sidewalks in front of an alley, building, driveway, or private road.

However, pedestrians also have certain rules to follow:

  • Yielding to vehicles when crossing outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

  • Adhering to traffic control signals, only crossing when the 'Walk' signal is active.

These state regulations provide a basis for pedestrian safety. Some states may have additional rules in place for pedestrian crossing, necessitating awareness of local regulations for complete compliance.

Moreover, these rules contribute to minimizing pedestrian accidents and ensuring orderly traffic flow.


When Does a Driver Have to Yield to a Pedestrian?


Defined by the Texas Transportation Code § 552, there are specific circumstances under which pedestrians secure the right-of-way on the road. Here are notable instances:

  • If a person crosses an intersection crosswalk while the pedestrian signal flashes, 'walk.'

  • Pedestrians, whether crossing a marked or unmarked crosswalk under a green traffic signal, are entitled to a right-of-way.

  • Vehicles emerging from a building, alley, or private driveway must yield to any nearby pedestrian.

  • Drivers must slow down or stop for visually impaired people, confused individuals, or persons that can't move correctly.

  • When a vehicle has lawfully stopped to yield to pedestrians, other approaching drivers are not permitted to bypass the stopped vehicle.

According to the Texas Transportation Code § 552.008, drivers must be careful and take necessary precautions to avoid hitting pedestrians while driving.


The simple principle underlying these rules is to prevent pedestrian accidents by always acting responsibly.


To ensure pedestrian safety, observing traffic signals is crucial when navigating marked crosswalks.


Circumstances Where Pedestrians Need to Yield to Vehicles


As outlined in the Transportation Code § 552, there are also instances when pedestrians surrender their right-of-way. Specific provisions in the Code, such as § 552.002, clarify that pedestrians lose this right when facing a 'don't walk' or 'wait' signal.


It's important to think in a practical way when crossing the street, as it can be dangerous and unsafe to step out into the path of a vehicle that cannot stop or yield to pedestrians.


Local governing bodies might institute laws that:

  • Insist on pedestrian adherence to directions from an official traffic control signal.

  • Disallow pedestrian crossing in business districts or designated highways outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk, often called 'jaywalking.'

Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind that pedestrians in Texas can still seek compensation even if they do not have the right-of-way or are jaywalking. This is achievable due to Texas' modified comparative negligence laws.


Even in situations where pedestrians might seem at fault when crossing traffic lanes, the law still offers avenues for redress. It's a demonstration of Texas' commitment to pedestrian safety, even amidst complex traffic signals and busy business districts.


Understanding who has the right-of-way is crucial for pedestrian safety, whether at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked intersection.


Safety When Navigating a Marked or Unmarked Crosswalk


Crossing the streets of Texas requires a clear understanding of both marked and unmarked crosswalks, as they significantly contribute to the safety and smooth flow of traffic.


Marked Crosswalk


A marked crosswalk in Texas is easily recognizable, adorned with white painted lines, and often accompanied by traffic lights. It serves as a clear path for pedestrians and a visible warning for drivers.

When the green signal flashes at the traffic light, pedestrians have the right-of-way, and vehicle operators are required to yield.


However, some drivers fail to do so, occasionally turning the marked crosswalk into an accident scene.


Unmarked Crosswalk


On the other hand, an unmarked crosswalk isn't as intuitive. Even for locals, navigating some areas without clear markings or signs can be difficult.


Nevertheless, Texas law recognizes the existence of unmarked crosswalks at most intersections, including those along a designated highway. Crosswalks are an extension of the sidewalk and allow pedestrians to safely cross intersecting streets.


However, everyone needs to remember that unmarked crosswalks are strictly limited to intersections. Should pedestrians decide to cross elsewhere, they're obliged to yield to oncoming traffic, prioritizing their safety and that of others.


A clear understanding of both marked and unmarked crosswalks enhances the safety of Texas roads, ensuring smooth and secure passage for all road users.


Why Is an Attorney Crucial in Pedestrian Accident Cases?

Why Is an Attorney Crucial in Pedestrian Accident Cases?


Involvement in a pedestrian accident can lead to a complex series of events. Understanding the complexities of right-of-way laws and interpreting traffic light signals requires the knowledge and expertise of a legal professional. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise on questions like, "What happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking in Texas?"


Deciphering driver obligations at marked crosswalks and unmarked intersections also falls within the realm of a legal professional's expertise.


Moreover, cases can get particularly challenging when accidents occur in areas deemed extremely dangerous, such as at a safety zone or where drivers fail to heed pedestrian signals or the green signal.

Having an attorney ensures proper precaution is taken when dealing with insurance adjusters or opposing legal teams, advocating for the rights and interests of the victim.


Furthermore, the Dallas pedestrian injury attorneys at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys possess the required expertise and dedication to navigate these complex situations. Victims can reach out to the professional team today for unparalleled legal assistance in pedestrian accident cases.


The Bottom Line


Understanding pedestrian laws and rights in Texas holds great significance for ensuring safety on the roads.


Each detail matters, from knowing who has the right-of-way at marked crosswalks or unmarked intersections to understanding the responsibilities when walking on a sidewalk or safety island.

However, accidents still happen. In these challenging times, professional legal assistance becomes invaluable for each pedestrian and vehicle operator.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is a trusted partner in such circumstances, dedicated to fighting for justice and the best possible outcomes.


If someone has been involved in a pedestrian accident, it's important for them to seek legal assistance from a specialized firm as soon as possible.

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