A brand new legislation in Texas permits drivers to be charged with a criminal offense in the event that they trigger bodily hurt to a pedestrian at a crosswalk.
The legislation, which went into impact Sept. 1, may imply a misdemeanor cost for bodily hurt and a attainable felony cost if the pedestrian is critically injured.
The brand new legislation was impressed by the loss of life of a girl within the Houston space.
On June 18, Gov. Greg Abbot signed into legislation Senate Invoice 1055, or the Lisa Torry Smith Act. Named for a late Houston space mother who was killed in a crosswalk by a negligent driver whereas she was taking her son to highschool, the brand new legislation seeks to guard not solely pedestrians but in addition cyclists and folks working motor-assisted scooters, neighborhood electrical automobiles or golf carts.
The motive force in Lisa Torry Smith’s crash by no means confronted any felony expenses. The brand new legislation additional requires drivers to cease and yield to pedestrians or cyclists who’re correctly in an intersection.
Pedestrian deaths account for one in 5 of all site visitors fatalities, in line with the Texas Division of Transportation. In 2020, there have been 4,852 site visitors crashes involving pedestrians in Texas, leading to 731 fatalities and 1,211 critical accidents.
From 2016 to 2020, pedestrian fatalities ensuing from site visitors crashes elevated 5%.
Regardless of a lower in site visitors crashes in 2020, Texas noticed a dramatic rise within the variety of folks killed strolling and biking on roadways. In 2020, 731 folks died in pedestrian-related crashes, a rise of 9% from 2019. Crashes involving bicyclists claimed the lives of 82 folks, up from 68 deaths the earlier yr.
In TxDOT’s Atlanta District, there have been 54 pedestrian accidents in 2020, leading to 10 fatalities and 21 critical accidents, stated Atlanta-District Spokeswoman Heather Deaton. There have been 16 site visitors accidents involving bicyclists in 2020, leading to two fatalities and 7 critical accidents.
Nighttime is essentially the most harmful time for pedestrians and cyclists, with 9 p.m. being essentially the most harmful hour, Deaton stated.
Although Texarkana has had a number of critical pedestrian accidents in recent times, the vast majority of them don’t occur at crosswalks, stated Texarkana Texas Police Spokesman Shawn Vaughn.
“We have now an issue with folks strolling in the course of the roadway or crossing the highway inappropriately, even when there are sidewalks and crosswalks current. These appear to be essentially the most prevalent components in pedestrian accidents that occur right here,” Vaughn stated.
TxDOT officers hope the legislation helps forestall future accidents.
“We emphasize security. We’re all a pedestrian generally, and everybody must be conscious and take correct precautions,” stated Deaton.
Pedestrians should cross the road solely at intersections and crosswalks, obey all site visitors and crosswalk indicators and at all times use sidewalks. If there is not a sidewalk, pedestrians ought to stroll on the left aspect of the road or highway, going through oncoming site visitors.
Between 2015 and 2021, TxDOT awarded greater than $300 million in federal and state funding to help locally-sponsored initiatives offering secure routes to colleges, multi-use paths, sidewalks and bike methods in rural and small city areas and to improve sidewalks, curb ramps and striping for pedestrian accessibility, security and mobility.