TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KSHV) – A new Texas law went into effect Wednesday that allows prison time for drivers if they hit and seriously injure someone who is legally using a crosswalk.
The new law was inspired by a tragedy. Lisa Torry Smith was a Houston area mom who was struck and killed in a crosswalk while she was taking her son to school in October 2017. The driver was able to walk away without facing any criminal charges for killing Lisa and injuring her son.
Senate Bill 1055, otherwise known as the Lisa Torry Smith Act, was passed by the Texas legislature and signed into law in June of 2021. The law allows negligent drivers to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if they cause bodily harm to a pedestrian legally using a crosswalk. The charge can be upgraded to a state jail felony if the pedestrian is seriously injured.
The new law seeks to protect not only pedestrians but also cyclists and people operating motor-assisted scooters.
“Pedestrians, specifically crashes, are up this year,” said Texarkana Texas Police Department Public Information Officer Shawn Vaughn. “We’ve had several people that have been hit, several people that have died. As a result of that, the city is working with the state. We’re installing sidewalks and all of those types of things to and try to courage people to use them.”
The Texas Department of Transportation reports that pedestrian deaths account for one in five of all traffic fatalities.