Pedestrians are the road’s most vulnerable users. They are at risk of catastrophic to fatal injuries in traffic accidents. It is a driver’s responsibility to reasonably prevent pedestrian accidents by knowing and obeying all relevant traffic laws, including crosswalk laws. Following Texas’ crosswalk laws as a pedestrian can also help you avoid a serious accident.
How Common Are Pedestrian Accidents in Texas?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 717 pedestrians in Texas lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2020 alone. This was about an 8.5 percent increase from the number of deaths in 2019. Hundreds of others suffered serious injuries. Busy urban areas, such as downtown Dallas or Houston, are especially dangerous for pedestrians due to heavy vehicle traffic.
Although crosswalks are designed to provide pedestrians with safe places to cross roads, they are frequently the settings of harmful pedestrian-vehicle collisions. These collisions are often the fault of motor vehicle drivers who are speeding, driving distracted or otherwise failing to drive safely. However, pedestrians could also be at fault for failing to safely and correctly use crosswalks in Texas.
Who Has the Right-of-Way at a Pedestrian Crosswalk in Texas?
The right-of-way is the legal privilege to proceed across a roadway based on the applicable rules of the road. Texas Transportation Code Section 552.003 – Texas’ crosswalk law – states that pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks that do not have traffic control signals in operation. It states that a motor vehicle operator must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk if the pedestrian is on the vehicle’s half of the road or approaching close enough from the opposite half as to be in danger.
The crosswalk law also states that a pedestrian may not leave a curb or place of safety and enter a crosswalk if oncoming vehicle traffic is approaching quickly enough as to make it impossible for the driver to stop. Even if the pedestrian has the right-of-way, the pedestrian must remain at the curb until the road is clear or oncoming drivers have come to complete stops. Finally, it is against the law for a motor vehicle driver to pass a vehicle that has stopped to allow pedestrians to cross a roadway.
If the crosswalk does have a control signal present and in use, a pedestrian will only have the right to cross when the signal gives the “Walk” sign. With the Walk sign on, all drivers are obligated to yield the right-of-way to crossing pedestrians. When the control signal says “Wait,” or “Don’t Walk,” a pedestrian cannot legally enter the crosswalk, even if the way is clear. If an intersection has a traffic light but no special pedestrian control signal, the pedestrian may only cross the road with a green signal showing (not yellow or red).
Driver Responsibilities at Pedestrian Crosswalks
Motor vehicle drivers have certain obligations to pedestrians by law in Texas. Section 552.008 of the Transportation Code gives motor vehicle drivers a legal responsibility to always exercise due care to avoid pedestrian collisions. Due care includes driving safely and prudently, obeying speed limits (especially in school zones and residential areas), yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians when applicable, and honking their horns to warn pedestrians when necessary.
Even if a pedestrian is illegally crossing a road – such as a child darting into traffic or a pedestrian jaywalking – a driver has a responsibility to avoid a collision whenever possible. If a driver fails to fulfill this duty, the driver may be at least partially at fault for a pedestrian collision, even if the pedestrian did not have the right-of-way to cross.
Can Both Parties Share the Blame?
Yes, a motor vehicle driver and a pedestrian can share the fault for a collision at a crosswalk in Texas. If an investigation finds that both parties are partially to blame, such as a pedestrian for illegally crossing and a driver for texting and driving, any financial compensation obtained by the injured victim will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault. For more information about crosswalk accidents and shared fault, consult with a pedestrian accident attorney in Dallas today.