Texas Road Running Rules and Safety Tips

Austin and the surrounding area are popular among runners, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Metropolitan cityscapes and rural roads just outside the city offer great opportunities for athletes, marathon trainers, competitive racers, and recreational runners. Unfortunately, runners and other roadway users do not always coexist peacefully. In the event you or a loved one was injured due to the negligence of another party, consider speaking with an experienced Austin pedestrian accident lawyer to learn your rights. There were 550 pedestrian fatalities in the state of Texas in 2015 – a significant 12.7% increase from 2014. Protect yourself while running in Austin by knowing relevant laws and proven safety tips.

Laws for Runners in Texas

While motor vehicle drivers cause many pedestrian accidents, sometimes the pedestrian is to blame for failing to follow roadway rules. Jaywalking and running on certain roadways, for example, can cause preventable accidents. Chapter 552 of the Texas Transportation Code covers pedestrian roadway rules. Obeying these rules can enhance your safety as a runner, as well as protect you from liability in the event of an accident. Here are a few that pertain to running:

  • A pedestrian may not enter a roadway when a traffic control signal shows a steady red or yellow signal. Pedestrians must wait for green signals to proceed across a roadway, whether there is a marked or unmarked crosswalk. If the green signal is a turn arrow, pedestrians must look out for turning vehicles.
  • Pedestrians must wait for a “Walk” signal when crossing at an intersection with a pedestrian control sign. Do not cross a roadway if the signs states to wait or says “Don’t Walk.” Pedestrians only have the right of way at a walk signal.
  • If there is a sidewalk available and accessible, a pedestrian cannot walk (or run) along a roadway. Where there is no sidewalk accessible, pedestrians must walk on the far left side of the roadway or the shoulder of a highway facing oncoming traffic.

Keep in mind that local authorities within Austin or Travis County may enact further pedestrian roadway rules on top of state regulations. Before running in Texas, check your local ordinances for county-specific laws.

Running Safety Tips and Best Practices

Runners should also follow safety tips and best practices to minimize the odds of getting into a collision. As vulnerable road users, runners must look out for their own best interests and never assume that drivers will see them or obey roadway laws. Drivers may ignore pedestrian crosswalks, fail to notice a runner, or drive under the influence. Always practice defensive running or running with the assumption that others will not avoid an accident. Follow these safety tips:

  • Wear bright colors. Make yourself as visible as possible to drivers. Wear brightly colored clothing or invest in high-visibility apparel such as reflective vests and neon gear.
  • Do not run at night. Many accidents involving runners occur at night due to poor visibility. Runners can already be difficult to spot on the roadway, especially if a driver is not paying attention to the road. Running at night puts you at an increased risk of a driver not seeing you. If you must run at night, wear reflective gear and lights.
  • Run on the side of the road that is safest. While a common best practice is to run against oncoming traffic, this may not be best in all situations. Instead, use common sense to decide where to run. Run where oncoming cars can see you most easily, the side that has a sidewalk, or the side that has an escape route.

Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you like to run with headphones, keep the volume at a level where you can still hear what’s happening around you. Every time you go for a run in Texas, use common sense to keep yourself as safe as possible.