HOUSTON, Texas (KIAH) Beginning Wednesday September 1st, a new Texas law takes effect that allows negligent drivers to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if they cause bodily harm to a pedestrian. Also, if the pedestrian is seriously injured, drivers may be found guilty of a state jail felony.
On June 18, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 1055, the Lisa Torry Smith Act, a bill is inspired by a tragedy. Lisa Torry Smith, a late Houston area mom, was killed in a crosswalk by a negligent driver while she was taking her son to school. The driver in this case was able to walk away without facing any criminal charges.
This new law seeks to protect not only pedestrians but also cyclists and people operating motor-assisted scooters, neighborhood electric vehicles or golf carts.
“More than 800 people lost their lives last year in pedestrian and bicycle-related crashes on Texas roads. One death is too many. Whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot or riding a bicycle, we’re reminding all Texans that they need to be safe and smart, and that starts with obeying traffic laws.”TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams
The Texas Department of Transportation reports that pedestrian deaths account for on in five of all traffic fatalities. In 2020, there were 4,851 traffic crashes involving pedestrians in Texas, resulting in 731 fatalities and 1,211 serious injuries. From 2016-2020 pedestrian fatalities resulting from traffic crashes increased 5 percent.