Motor vehicle vs. pedestrians. Too often the public learns about these cases the hard way when serious and tragic consequences are the result. Pedestrians have little chance to escape injuries when struck by a motor vehicle whether it is a car, pick-up, SUV or large truck.
More protections as well as deterrents are necessary to ensure the safety of pedestrians. Recently in Texas, a new law added some bite by increasing the penalties – including a potential prison sentence — against negligent drivers who strike anyone in a crosswalk. That latter group includes pedestrians, bicyclists as well as people riding in scooters and golf carts.
Young mother died walking child to school
The Lisa Torry Smith Act went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1. Named after a suburban Houston mother, the law honors a woman who died in 2017 after being struck by a car while she and her kindergarten-aged son walked in a crosswalk en route to school. Torry Smith died at the scene, while her son sustained critical injuries.
Authorities ticketed the car’s driver, a woman who dropped her grandchildren off at school. However, the driver never faced criminal charges. In late 2019, a grand jury declined to indict the driver on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.
The new law declares that drivers must stop and yield to anyone in a crosswalk. If a collision occurs, depending on the circumstances, the driver faces misdemeanor or felony charges and up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
All along, these drivers also face civil lawsuits brought on by the families and loved ones of the victims. Whether it’s wrongful death- or personal injury-related, these legal cases bring further attention to collisions that, in many cases, remain preventable.