The Unmarked Crosswalk: Who Has The Right Of Way?

In Texas, there are very specific laws pertaining to the rights of pedestrians when crossing roadways, depending on where exactly they happen to be crossing. Is it a marked crosswalk? An unmarked crosswalk? Are they crossing at an intersection or a non-intersection? Are traffic lights or pedestrian control signals present?

If you have been injured in a pedestrian traffic accident while crossing a marked or unmarked crosswalk, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for any damages suffered. These may include medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering. When distracted, reckless, or otherwise negligent drivers fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians, they should be held accountable for their actions.

At Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers, our pedestrian accident attorneys have helped countless injury victims obtain the compensation they deserve in a timely manner. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

What is an Unmarked Crosswalk?

Anywhere an intersection exists, pedestrians are permitted to cross. When these intersections are particularly busy or near a school, they are likely to have clearly marked crosswalks for pedestrian use. In less busy areas, however, crosswalks may not be indicated by signage, signals, or painted lines. When an intersection does not have painted lines or signs indicating the crosswalk, it is known as an “unmarked crosswalk.” Pedestrians still have the right of way in unmarked crosswalks, which always extend directly from the sidewalk on one side of the road to the sidewalk on the other.

Even when there are no painted lines to indicate a crosswalk, just about every intersection in Texas is considered to be a crosswalk. From a legal standpoint, unmarked crosswalks located at intersections provide the same right-of-way protections to pedestrians as their painted counterparts. But confusion about these laws often results in serious injury and death.

What is Considered an “Intersection” in Texas?

Most TX intersections are automatically considered to be crosswalks, painted or not. But what exactly constitutes an intersection in Texas? Generally speaking, an intersection is any point where two roads meet. These commonly include cross streets, side streets, and entrances to freeways. Because intersections have a higher risk of collision, they should always be approached with caution, whether or not pedestrians are present.

Drivers’ Responsibilities to Pedestrians in Unmarked Crosswalks

Drivers are required by Texas law to yield the right of way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks, so long as both are on the same side of the roadway, or the pedestrian is approaching the driver’s side. This is true whether the pedestrian is crossing from a private or public road, someone’s driveway, an alley, or any type of building.

Drivers must also yield the right of way to pedestrians when there is a crossing signal indicating “Walk,” whether or not the pedestrian is on the same half of the roadway as the driver. And drivers are prohibited from passing a vehicle that stops to allow a pedestrian to cross. A skilled car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and options if you’ve been involved in a pedestrian-vehicle accident.

Pedestrians’ Responsibilities in Unmarked Crosswalks

In Texas, pedestrians have the right of way in intersections. But they do not have the same legal protections when crossing anywhere that isn’t located at an intersection and isn’t a marked crosswalk. In these situations, approaching vehicles have the right-of-way.

When traffic lights or pedestrian control signals are present, pedestrians are only permitted to cross when traffic lights are green or the control signal indicates that it is safe to “Walk.” And regardless of whether or not they are utilizing a marked or unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians should never enter the roadway in a sudden, unexpected manner that prevents an oncoming vehicle from stopping in time.

Just as drivers must exercise care and caution when approaching intersections and crosswalks, pedestrians should be held to the same standards of vigilance. Doing otherwise endangers the pedestrian, vehicle occupants, and anyone else on the roadway.

“Jaywalking” – Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

By definition, jaywalking involves crossing a trafficked roadway with disregard for traffic rules, such as crossing at an unsuitable location. Many drivers mistakenly believe that walking outside of a marked crosswalk when marked crosswalks are present automatically constitutes jaywalking. But this is not always so.

Under the Texas Transportation Code, pedestrians must cross in marked crosswalks when there are two adjacent intersections and both are equipped with traffic lights. However, if only one of the two adjacent intersections is equipped with traffic lights, pedestrians are permitted to cross anywhere that is safe, whether or not it is a marked crosswalk.

That being said, some cities and municipalities may have local ordinances that place additional rules and regulations on the above scenario. As such, it’s in your best interest to familiarize yourself with ordinances related to pedestrian crossings in your local area. An experienced Texas personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.

Preventing Pedestrian-Vehicle Fatalities

In the decade that passed between 2009 and 2019, pedestrian-vehicle deaths skyrocketed 51 percent, accounting for about 17 percent of all fatal crash injuries. Pedestrian fatalities, which are most common in urban areas, are largely preventable through the safe use of sidewalks, crosswalks, and responsible pedestrian and driver behaviors.

Adequate illumination, pedestrian crossing signals, and clearly marked crosswalks can dramatically reduce serious injury and death, but not all crosswalks are equipped with these tools. As such, it is in everyone’s best interest that drivers avoid distractions, excessive speed, and driving while fatigued, and that pedestrians use caution and avoid distractions while crossing any trafficked roadway, busy or not.

Contact a Texas Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you have been injured in any type of car accident or motor vehicle accident, the skilled legal team at Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers can help. Far too many pedestrians are seriously injured or killed every year, even those who had the right of way while using a marked or unmarked crosswalk. When a pedestrian crosses a marked crosswalk or any intersection in a safe manner and is harmed by a driver’s negligence, they may be able to obtain substantial compensation. Contact Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.