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Personal Injury


February 13, 2023


Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in Texas?

You may have heard “pedestrians always have the right of way in Texas.” It would be more accurate to say pedestrians often have the right of way, as pedestrians must adhere to traffic signals and laws. However, when drivers fail to recognize pedestrians’ right of way, their negligence can cause catastrophic injuries or death to the pedestrian. Pedestrian accident victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries in a personal injury claim.

Texas Pedestrian Laws

do pedestrians always have the right of way

Under Texas Transportation Code §552.008, drivers have a duty to avoid collisions with pedestrians. This includes:

  • Exercising due care on the roadway
  • Sounding the horn when necessary to give a warning
  • Using proper precaution when observing a child, or a confused or incapacitated individual on the road.

Who Is Considered Pedestrian in Texas?

Everyone is a pedestrian at some point. Pedestrians include young children, teenagers, adults, and elderly individuals. Pedestrians can be crossing traffic, walking alongside traffic, walking on a sidewalk, or in a parking lot. A pedestrian can be anyone walking, or anyone in a self-powered or motorized wheelchair. Pedestrians can also include skateboarders and people on roller skates or blades, and people running or jogging. Pedestrians often travel in groups, or with pets. Pedestrians may be present at any hour of the day and are harder to see at night. Without protective clothing or helmets that motorcyclists or bicyclists wear, people on foot are vulnerable to very serious injury when struck by a vehicle.

Traffic Control Signs Laws in Texas

Drivers must stop and give a pedestrian the right of way in a marked or unmarked crosswalk when a pedestrian has a green signal or walk sign. However, when a pedestrian has a red signal, a “wait” sign, or a “do-not-walk” signal, they do not have the right-of-way and must not cross.

What about when a crosswalk does not have traffic control signals? Drivers should yield to pedestrians right-of-way. Vehicles moving on the same side as the pedestrian should give the right-of-way to the pedestrian.

Texas Crosswalk Law

when does pedestrian have right of way

Texas crosswalk law states that the operator of a car or motorcycle must stop and yield to the right-of-way of a  pedestrian when the pedestrian is on half of the roadway in which the vehicle is traveling. Unless specifically signed otherwise, crosswalks, whether marked or not, exist at all four-way intersections, and at some non-intersection locations where a crosswalk is painted and signed. Pedestrians may not cross an intersection diagonally unless traffic control signs specifically authorize it.

If there is no crosswalk, the Texas Department of Transportation recommends checking for a crosswalk further up or down the street.

Where Must a Pedestrian Walk When There Are No Sidewalks?

Sidewalks are common in Texas and many city ordinances require that sidewalks are constructed concurrently with any roads, although waivers may be granted in areas where potential pedestrian traffic in the area is so minimal that sidewalks are not warranted. Pedestrians must walk on a sidewalk or pedestrian path anytime one is available - it is illegal to walk on the road when a sidewalk is available.  If a sidewalk is blocked or there is not one present, pedestrians may walk on the road. If you must walk on the road, keep to the far left side to face oncoming vehicles and cyclists.

When Does a Pedestrian Have the Right of Way?

Texas Transportation Code § 552 establishes all of the instances when a pedestrian has the right of way. There are a number of situations where pedestrians are legally permitted to walk on the road and cross it with the legal right of way. In these situations a driver must yield to a pedestrian:

  • When a pedestrian is in an intersection crosswalk and the crosswalk sign indicates a pedestrian may “WALK.”
  • A pedestrian is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk and going in the direction of a green traffic signal
  • When a vehicle is pulling out of a building, alleyway, or private drive, they are to yield to the right of way for pedestrians in the area.
  • When a pedestrian is blind, incapacitated, or “obviously confused,” drivers must slow down or stop.
  • When a driver approaches the rear of a vehicle that has lawfully stopped to yield to a pedestrian for any of the above reasons, the driver of the second vehicle may not pass (go around) the stopped vehicle.

Many of these rules come down to basic common sense. To drive that point home, Texas Transportation Code § 552.008 says drivers must “exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on a roadway.” In other words, when a driver sees a pedestrian, they are to avoid hitting them whenever possible.

When Does a Pedestrian Not Have the Right of Way?


When does a pedestrian not have the right of way? Again, Texas Transportation Code § 552 covers pedestrian right-of-way laws and ordinances relating to pedestrians. For example, § 552.002 states that pedestrians do not have the right-of-way when there is a “don’t walk” or a “wait signal. Pedestrians must exercise common sense - they may not a pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb and step into the path of a vehicle so close that it is impossible for the vehicle operator to stop and yield.

Local authorities may pass specific laws for pedestrians such as:

  • Requiring pedestrians to comply strictly with the directions of an official traffic control signal
  • Prohibiting pedestrians from crossing a roadway in a business district or a designated highway except in a crosswalk (commonly referred to as jaywalking).

It is important to note: Even if a pedestrian did not have the right-of-way, such as in scenarios where jaywalking is illegal in Texas, they may still be able to recover compensation under Texas’ modified comparative negligence laws.

What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident in TX?

There are a few things pedestrian accident victims should do immediately following a pedestrian accident:

  • Document the Accident: Note the time and location of the accident and as many details as possible. Take photographs and videos of the accident scene. Have law enforcement take a report, if possible. If you are unable to document the accident scene yourself, ask a witness to help you.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Your medical treatment record is evidence of your injuries. Do not downplay your injuries or delay seeking treatment. If your emergency care provider recommends follow-up treatment, follow their recommendations.
  • Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer: Before providing a recorded statement to an insurance adjustor or accepting a compensation offer, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands Texas pedestrian laws

How Often Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen in Texas?

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 5,000 pedestrian accidents occur each year in Texas. In 2021, there were 841 pedestrian deaths in Texas, a 15 percent increase from 2020. More than 1,400 people were seriously injured. Because pedestrians do not have any of the standard protection that motorists have, like seat belts, airbags, and collision avoidance systems, injuries are often catastrophic. Pedestrians struck by vehicles often experience injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, blunt force trauma injuries, and broken bones.

How Can Pedestrians Prevent Collisions with Motor Vehicle Drivers?

pedestrian right of way

Unfortunately, some motorists simply do not look for pedestrians. However, pedestrians can take some steps to be more aware, mindful, and visible on the road:

  • Be alert: Walking across a parking lot or crosswalk is not the time to read texts, messages, or emails, or to scroll through social media. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind on your task of walking and looking for traffic.
  • Plan your route: Avoid busy streets to reduce your chances of being struck by a vehicle. If you are walking or running for exercise, choose pedestrian paths or routes that do not involve walking alongside or frequently crossing busy traffic. If you are walking a regular commute, consider side streets or alternative routes that avoid high-traffic areas.
  • Be visible: Wearing dark clothing while walking along a road at night is extremely dangerous, especially in areas without streetlights. If you must walk at dusk or night, wear reflective clothing and use lights to be visible to cars and others.

How Can a Lawyer Help You After a Pedestrian Accident?

What is the benefit of hiring a Texas pedestrian accident lawyer? An attorney can help you recover compensation for your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one. When you hire Brooks & Radchenko, our legal team will get to work right away to:

  • Conduct an immediate, thorough investigation of your collision to determine who was responsible.
  • Identify all liable parties and sources of compensation.
  • Calculate damages, including all of your future medical care, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and future needs.
  • Demand and negotiate a fair settlement.
  • Take your case to trial, if a fair settlement cannot be reached.

Brooks & Radchenko offers a free consultation to review your potential case and answer your questions.

Get Help from Our Texas Pedestrian Accident Attorneys Today!

Pedestrian accidents cause serious injuries, and impact victims and their loved ones physically, emotionally, and financially. You do not have to handle a claim with the insurance company on your own in Texas, nor should you. Do not delay speaking with a lawyer following a Texas pedestrian accident - contact us today. At Brooks & Radchenko, under our contingency fee agreement, we are only paid if we recover money for you.

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