Pedestrian Rights

You have heard the old joke – “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!”

Well, why do pedestrians cross the road? For the same reason! To get to the other side.

However, crossing a road can be very dangerous, especially if you are not familiar with the rights and obligations of both the pedestrian and the vehicles on the road.

In Texas the law differs regarding whether (1) You are crossing the street at a cross walk that is controlled by a light signal and/or a pedestrian light or not; and (2) whether you are crossing at an intersection or somewhere along the road not at an intersection.

At a controlled cross walk there is either the red, yellow and green signal light in the direction of travel of the pedestrian or maybe even an additional pedestrian light with “Walk”, “Wait” or “Don’t Walk”. In this situation, if the pedestrian is facing a green light or a “Walk” signal they may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and the vehicles MUST yield the right of way to the pedestrian. A pedestrian may not begin to cross the street if the yellow or red light is showing for their direction of travel or if the pedestrian signal shows “Wait” or “Don’t Walk”. However, a pedestrian that has partially crossed the street while the green light or “Walk” signal is showing shall proceed to the sidewalk or closest safety island until the next “Walk” or green light is displayed for them. During that time they still have the right of way as they were in the street legally.

If the cross walk is NOT controlled by a signal light or pedestrian signal the operators of vehicles MUST yield the right of way to a pedestrian that is either already in the street or so close to the street that they could enter it and become a hazard. This means the drivers of vehicles MUST pay close attention to those people standing or walking up to a cross walk to ensure they have enough time to come to a stop in the event the person enters the street.

What if you are going to cross the road and you are not at an intersection but are at the middle of the street? In this case the pedestrian MUST yield the right of way to all vehicles! It is always safer to cross at an intersection where the burden to yield the right of way is on the vehicles at the intersection.

However, in Texas, the general rule is that since a vehicle is hundreds or maybe even thousands of pounds heavier than a pedestrian and is moving much faster than a pedestrian, the driver of any vehicle is charged with the duty to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on the roadway for any reason and have to give a warning by sounding the horn when necessary.