TxDOT reminding drivers, pedestrians to watch out for each other during Pedestrian Safety Month
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - October is pedestrian safety awareness month, and TxDOT said pedestrian deaths account for one in five of all traffic fatalities.
TxDOT said its “Be Safe. Drive Smart” campaign is launching to remind drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to watch out and follow traffic laws.
Jake Smith, spokesperson for the TxDOT Waco district, said laws, like yielding the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists and giving room for bikes, are there to keep everyone safe.
There are laws for pedestrians too, like only crossing in designated areas, walking on sidewalks, and if there isn’t a sidewalk, walking against the traffic.
TxDOT said while it’s responsible for upkeeping roads, it also wants to reduce traffic deaths.
“We hope to bring some education to the public about how we should encourage each other to look out for pedestrians and bicyclists and vice versa,” Smith said. “Whether you’re a motorist bicycle or pedestrian we got to look out for each other, and obviously, ultimately we want to reverse the trend.”
While following current laws is important, there is a new law in Texas that could mean jail time for drivers.
It’s called the Lisa Torry Smith Act, which went into effect earlier this year. The law offers protections for people who are hit while crossing in a crosswalk.
The law is named after Lisa Torry Smith, who was hit and killed by a driver while walking her son to school.
Under the new law, if an inattentive driver hits someone, they can be charged with a class A misdemeanor. If the pedestrian is seriously injured, the driver can be found guilty of a state jail felony.
According to Texas DPS Sgt. Bryan Washko, a class A misdemeanor carries the possibility of a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail, while a state jail felony could mean up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Sgt. Washko said distracted driving is becoming more and more common in crashes, and even a small distraction can be enough for you to miss a person or a cyclist in a crosswalk.
“If you take somebody’s life, that’s something you have to live with the rest of your life, even though you didn’t intend to do it,” Washko said. “Due to your negligence, the last thing you want to do is take somebody away from their family, that can be avoided.”
You can read the full text of the Lisa Torry Smith Act here.
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