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Drive safe on the road with "Be Safe. Drive Smart" initiative

The initiative urges all Texans to know and follow the state’s traffic laws for safe driving, walking and biking.

TEXAS, USA — Labor Day means a whole lot of driving: to your loved ones' houses, to your Barbeque cookouts or just driving in general.

With that in mind, TxDOT is starting an initiative to try to limit pedestrian and bicycles accidents from today to Sept. 15. 

These accidents in Texas continue to rise every year. In 2021, 841 people died in pedestrian-related traffic crashes, an increase of 15% from 2020. Crashes involving bicyclists claimed the lives of 92 people in 2021. These 933 deaths account for 20% of the 4,490 fatalities on Texas roadways last year. 

This initiative urges all Texans to know and follow the state’s traffic laws for safe driving, walking and biking. This includes the Lisa Torry Smith Act, which is named after a Texas mother in Missouri City who was killed in a pedestrian crash in a crosswalk in Oct. 2017 while she was walking her 6 year-old son to school.

At the time of the crash, hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist in a crosswalk held almost no consequences for Texas drivers. After her death, Lisa’s family worked hard to get a new law passed, called the Lisa Torry Smith Act (officially Senate Bill 1055 in Texas' 87th Legislature), which went into effect on September 1st, 2021 and requires that drivers stop and yield the right of way to people in crosswalks. Texas motorists who fail to stop and yield and cause serious injury or death to someone in a crosswalk can face criminal penalties ranging from a fine, a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the injury.

Here are the Texas law states if you’re driving:

•          Stop and yield for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users in crosswalks.

•          When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists.

•          Pass bikes at a safe distance and give bicyclists room to ride.

If you’re walking:

•          Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.

•          Obey all traffic and crosswalk signals.

•          Use sidewalks. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.

If you’re riding a bike:

•          Always stop at red lights and stop signs.

•          Ride in the same direction as traffic and use bike lanes or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb.

•          Use hand signals when turning or stopping.

•          At night, make sure your bike has a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.

Our own Christina Burgess covered a story very similar to this.

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