Any auto accident attorney will confirm that crossing the street can be dangerous and in Texas with one of the highest overall yearly accident fatality rates, pedestrian fatalities are exceptionally high as well.
Many personal injury lawyers feel this is largely due to unclear right of way laws that apply to pedestrian traffic.
This lack of clarity and observation of right of way laws result in many serious and preventable auto accidents that involve pedestrians.
Pedestrian Auto Accident Fatalities High In Texas
In its most recent report on pedestrian traffic fatalities based on 2017 data, the NHTSA indicates that the state of Texas has the highest number of overall traffic accidents of all the states as well as the third-highest number of pedestrian accidents.
Of the 3,722 total traffic fatalities that occurred in 2017, 607 of them were pedestrians.1
This equates to 2.14 fatalities per 100,000 state residents, giving Texas the 10th highest pedestrian fatality rate based on its very large population of more than 28 million residents.
Right Of Way Laws In Texas
One factor that many auto accident lawyers believe contributes to this high fatality count is unclear right of way laws.
According to Texas traffic law, drivers must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked.
Additionally, pedestrians must yield to vehicles if they are crossing anywhere other than in a marked or perceived crosswalk area.
Yet one more point that personal injury lawyers find many drivers involved in pedestrian accidents are unaware of what it actually means to yield to a pedestrian.
While the meaning of all three of these points may seem obvious to some, there is a lack of clarity that has resulted in other drivers and pedestrians failing to respond appropriately, resulting in an accident.
Clarifying Right Of Way In Texas
To address the problem of pedestrian accidents in Texas, attorneys who help clients handle the injury aftermath of a pedestrian accident stress the importance of both drivers and pedestrians having a clear understanding of right of way laws and how they apply.
Primarily, it is essential for drivers to understand that yielding means stopping, not just slowing down and potentially bumping a pedestrian which is currently being pursued in the Texas legislature under House Bill 1289 that would clarify the need to actually stop as part of a yield.
Drivers must also be totally aware that stopping at all marked and unmarked intersections and usual areas where people might cross is required.
Conversely, personal injury lawyers stress that pedestrians must also understand that unless they are crossing at a marked or unmarked crosswalk or normal crossing area like a street corner, an alleyway, or other similar areas, they do not have right of way.
Unfortunately, many pedestrians assume that they have the right of way anywhere and may discover the hard way that such is not the case.
Drivers are not legally required to yield to pedestrians who cross outside of marked or perceived crossing zones, although it is highly recommended that they should always do that when possible.
When this is always done, auto accident lawyers working on auto-pedestrian cases advise that this action frequently takes the blame away from the driver and puts it on the pedestrian.
Texans - Learn Right of Way Laws and Prevent Pedestrian Accidents
As simple as pedestrian right of way laws may seem, auto accident attorneys increasingly find that both drivers and pedestrians don’t actually understand them.
Proceeding under misunderstood presumptions is highly dangerous and can lead to serious and fatal accidents according to personal injury lawyers in Texas.
Until there is more legal clarification of right of way laws, drivers and pedestrians must make the extra effort to stay safe in all crossing situations and if an accident should happen, be sure to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer who knows the intricacies of right of way laws!
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1U.S. Department of Transportations, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts of 2017 Data: Pedestrians, March 2019