When walking along certain roadways in Texas, pedestrians might not always find a crosswalk to use to safely cross the street. Logically, one might assume that an area with no crosswalks could imply that pedestrians possess right-of-way in crossing the street in any location. This is simply not true and is in fact extremely dangerous. Assuming that you possess right-of-way as a pedestrian not only leads to illegal jaywalking, but it can also cost you your life.
What is Jaywalking?
Jaywalking refers to entering a roadway in the absence of a crosswalk. It’s dangerous to jaywalk in undesignated areas because there’s no requirement for yield to pedestrians cars on continuous streets as they are at intersections. On in-town highways, for instance, cars typically remain at an accelerated speed. In this situation there are no stop signs, speed bumps, or other regulatory means to slow down a vehicle and prevent any potential pedestrian related accidents. Colliding with a car under these conditions can spell disaster for pedestrians, who are almost always lacking in bodily protection while crossing the street.
Texas Pedestrian Laws
Texas exercises strict laws that keep pedestrians safe when entering roadways.
- Cars must yield right-of-way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks. White painted lines designate marked crosswalks, like those you see at busy intersections with traffic signals. Not all intersections have painted lines, though. In unmarked areas, like those including T-intersections and stop sign intersections, pedestrians still retain the right of way.
- Cars must yield right-of-way to pedestrians when they cross entrance gaps that cause lapses in sidewalk. For example, pedestrians retain the right-of-way when they are attempting to cross an alleyway, driveway, or building that divides the sidewalk.
- Pedestrians must abide by traffic signals when crossing a controlled intersection. This includes traffic lights and pedestrian-specific traffic lights. Pedestrians must also obey all signage pertaining to pedestrian travel. When disobeying traffic signals, pedestrians forfeit their right-of-way privileges.
- Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way when crossing a street in a location that does not contain an intersection. This includes situations in which the pedestrian’s location is directly across the street.
- Pedestrians must use available, marked crosswalks when available. Neglecting to use available crosswalks forfeits the pedestrian’s right-of-way.
- Pedestrians must not enter an intersection in which a car cannot safely slow down or stop in time to yield right-of-way.
Not adhering to these rules compromises your safety and increases your liability in car accidents. According to state law, all instances in which a pedestrian crosses a roadway without an intersection counts as jaywalking.
Penalties for Jaywalking
Jaywalking penalties aren’t nearly as severe as car-related traffic violations, though they do exist. Texas law enforcement offers to provide education to those caught jaywalking. Those that listen generally do not receive a ticket. If an individual is not willing to educate themselves on road safety by talking to the officer, they then administer a citation. Citations usually amount to between $20 and $160.
Who is Liable When a Car Hits a Pedestrian?
The answer to this liability question lies solely in context. A pedestrian that knowingly jaywalks, or otherwise acts in a reckless manner, do not receive protection under Texas law. This is because pedestrians only possess right-of-way privileges at intersections and marked crosswalks. However, if a car collides with a pedestrian while they are lawfully crossing an intersection, the driver will most likely possess liability.
Crossing the street as a pedestrian can be extremely dangerous in Texas. State-established crosswalk rules are meant to prevent accidents, especially because they can be fatal to unprotected pedestrians. When jaywalking means risking liability and safety when facing a car accident, the wisest decision remains to wait for a crosswalk before crossing the street.