What Rights Do Pedestrians Have?

Who Is Considered a Pedestrian?

In Washington, a pedestrian is any person who is on foot or who is using a wheelchair or power wheelchair. A pedestrian can also be someone traveling using transportation methods that are operated by human strength, such as a skateboard or roller-skates but excluding bicycles (RCW § 46.04.400).

So, if you are a runner training for a marathon, an individual out walking and getting some fresh air, or a roller-skater out for some fun, you are a pedestrian. Based on statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 19% of traffic fatalities, in Washington, were pedestrians.

To ensure your safety as a pedestrian, there are state laws that you and drivers must follow. As a pedestrian, you can also take extra steps for your safety by:

  • Glancing both ways before you cross the street
  • Staying alert and avoiding distractions
  • Locating well-lit areas to cross the street at night (when a crosswalk is unavailable)
  • Wearing bright or reflective clothing based on the time of day
  • Staying on the sidewalk if one is available
  • Facing traffic as you travel when a sidewalk is unavailable

What Laws Do I Have to Follow as a Pedestrian?

Whether you are commuting to work, out for a nice walk, or training for a marathon, you still have to follow pedestrian laws. As a pedestrian you must:

  • Obey traffic controls devices and signals unless otherwise directed by a police or traffic officer (RCW § 46.61.050)
  • Use sidewalks when they are available. If sidewalks are unavailable, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the road or the shoulder facing traffic (RCW § 46.61.250)
  • Avoid leaving a curb or stepping into the path of a vehicle, making it impossible for a driver to yield to you/the pedestrian (RCW § 46.61.235)
  • Yield the right of way to all vehicles when crossing the street (unless crossing inside of marked or unmarked crosswalks) (RCW § 46.61.240)

There are also laws in place that drivers must follow, such as:

  • Drivers should be cautious and exercise care to avoid any roadway collisions with pedestrians and should use their horns as a warning signal when necessary (RCW § 46.61.245)
  • Within marked and unmarked crosswalks, drivers must stop at intersections to allow pedestrians to cross (RCW § 46.61.235)

Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks

A marked crosswalk clearly shows pedestrians where it is safe to walk as they have painted lines marking the road, and at times, marked crosswalks have flashing lights and signs that warn drivers a crosswalk is ahead.

Unmarked crosswalks, on the other hand, do not have signage or flashing lights, and there are no painted lines. These crosswalks simply span an intersection or street between two corners.

What Is the Cause of Most Pedestrian Injuries?

According to NHTSA crash data, nationally, 76,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents. Accidents happen because drivers can be reckless. And pedestrians are often injured because:

  • Drivers are speeding (and unable to yield or stop)
  • Drivers and/or pedestrians are intoxicated
  • Drivers are being reckless
  • Drivers and/or pedestrians ignore traffic signs and signals
  • Drivers and/or pedestrians are distracted
  • There is not a lot of visibility
  • Sidewalks are unsafe

If you have been injured as a pedestrian, you have legal options, and you likely have a claim against the driver involved. We, at Hester Law Group, are prepared to obtain a settlement for you, so you can take the time and get the help you need to heal.

At Hester Law Group, our attorneys are runners and cyclists. We have a firsthand understanding of how drivers can be a danger to pedestrians. If you have been injured as a pedestrian, contact us online or call our office at (253) 300-3034.