When you’re out pounding the Houston pavement, you’re probably not thinking too much about your safety as a pedestrian. You’ve got places to go and people to meet, after all. How dangerous can walking really be? You’ve been crossing the street safely since you were a child, but pedestrian accidents happen and they are often the most dangerous accidents of all. When you head out on foot, you have absolutely nothing to protect you from the traffic around you. Next time you hoof it, put your own safety first and always follow pedestrian-safety rules of the road.
Accident Statistics for Pedestrians
Walking sounds like a healthy, energetic, and green alternative to driving, and it can be. Walking, however, is not without its attendant risks. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reports significant pedestrian accident statistics:
More than 5,300 pedestrian/motor vehicle accident deaths occurred in 2015, which is the largest number of pedestrian fatalities in nearly 20 years.
About 61,000 pedestrians were injured in car accidents in 2006, while about 70,000 pedestrians were injured in car accidents in 2015—an increase of nearly 15 percent during the course of a decade.
From 2006 to 2015, overall traffic fatalities decreased by almost 18 percent—but pedestrian fatalities increased by 12 percent.
Without a doubt, cars injure pedestrians. If you or someone you care about was injured in a Houston pedestrian accident, you need an experienced Houston, Texas, pedestrian accident lawyer. The legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, understands how devastating pedestrian accidents often are, and we’re here to help.
Pedestrian Accidents and Texas Law
When you set out as a pedestrian in Texas, the Texas Transportation Code dictates the rules of the road—and it incorporates a section that applies solely to pedestrians. Within these guidelines, pedestrians face several limits:
- Pedestrians must use sidewalks whenever they’re available
- When at traffic lights, pedestrians must cross only with walk signals
- Pedestrians must keep to the right side of crosswalks whenever possible
Furthermore, in Texas crosswalks with no traffic signals (or no operating traffic signals), a driver must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when:
- Pedestrians are on the half of the road on which the driver is traveling
- Pedestrians approach from the other half of the road but, nevertheless, are endangered due to close proximity to the vehicle.
In addition, pedestrians may not leave a curb or other safe place and proceed into a vehicle’s path so that it’s impossible for the driver to yield.
Texas law intentionally attempts to balance the duties of both the pedestrian and the driver. In other words, pedestrians (who are obviously the more vulnerable party) beware.
Texas Drivers: Proceed with Care
Texas pedestrian laws notwithstanding, under Texas law, “the operator of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on a roadway” and “give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.”
No matter how you slice it, pedestrians aren’t overly coddled in Texas, but the law expects drivers to exercise due caution— and even more caution when children are or should be expected in the area.
Pedestrian Accidents and Driver Liability
When a pedestrian is injured in a car accident, the involved driver may face liability for the pedestrian’s injuries. Typically, pedestrian accident claims are focused on driver negligence or on the driver’s failure to adhere to the duty of safe driving owed to pedestrians. For you to prevail on a claim of driver negligence in a pedestrian accident, you typically must prove three essential elements:
- You were owed a duty of safe driving by the driver (if you were crossing with the light at a marked crosswalk, for example).
- That duty of safe driving owed you was breached by the driver (if that driver failed to stop and allow you to cross safely at the marked crosswalk).
- That breach of duty caused an accident in which you were injured (if you were injured when the driver didn’t stop at the marked crosswalk).
Drivers’ Duty of Care
When drivers take to the streets of Texas, they have a duty to others on the road to drive reasonably—and this duty extends to pedestrians. Reasonable driving translates into abiding by the safety rules of the road and includes several specific restrictions:
- Don’t drive distracted (smartphone usage is the primary culprit).
- Don’t drive impaired (under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or exhaustion).
- Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Obey all traffic signals and signs.
- Accommodate any impediments to safe driving, including the low visibility of night driving, the poor conditions caused by inclement weather, and the obstacles of road construction or poorly maintained roads.
Distracted driving is so prevalent and dangerous to pedestrians that it’s worth taking a closer look at it. Distracted driving has become such a safety issue that the Department of Transportation now has a website dedicated to it. As people become more attached to their smartphones, some drivers fail to recognize that they need to take a smartphone break when they get behind the wheel.
To operate a vehicle safely, drivers must make (sometimes instantaneous) safety decisions. Drivers who have one eye glued to their handheld devices simply aren’t capable of safely accomplishing these tasks. Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers.
If You Were Injured in a Pedestrian Accident, Contact an Experienced Houston Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident, you understand how terrifying that is. You need a skilled pedestrian accident attorney to protect your rights and win your rightful compensation in these extremely complicated cases. To schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, call today at (281) 664-6500 or send us an email through our online contact form. Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your recovery.