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Distracted drivers who hurt pedestrians targeted in new law

Stiffer penalties now in place for distracted drivers who hurt pedestrians
Posted at 12:46 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 14:01:43-04

AUSTIN, Texas — Distracted drivers are being targeted by a new Texas law.

If you're not paying attention while driving and hurt a pedestrian, there are now stiffer penalties in place.

A new law allows inattentive drivers to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if bodily harm is caused to a pedestrian.

And if the pedestrian is seriously injured, drivers can be charged with a state jail felony.

The law was inspired by the death of Lisa Torry Smith in October 2017.

"That day Lisa was killed in a tragic crash. She was walking, taking my son to school and she was struck and killed by a driver who was inattentive and rushing and not considering pedestrian safety," said Elliot Smith, the victim's husband. "That day we lost Lisa. We not only lost a wife, we lost a mother of two children which created a deep hole in our lives which has never been replaced."

The driver in Lisa's crash walked away without criminal charges after killing Lisa and injuring her son.

"Children are very resilient, but you never get over watching your mother die in front of you," said Gina Torry, the victim's sister. "No matter how old you are. It has been a challenge. He has tried to be very strong, but I don't think you ever get over something like this."

The family pushed for the 'Lisa Torry Smith Act', which inspired this new law.

It seeks to protect not only pedestrians but also cyclists and people operating motor-assisted scooters, neighborhood electric vehicles or golf carts.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2020 there were more than 4,800 traffic crashes involving pedestrians in Texas.

They resulted in 731 deaths and more than 1,200 serious injuries.

TxDOT is committed to prevent crashes like those.

They've launched the "Be safe, drive smart" pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign to educate drivers.