When Do Pedestrians Have the Right-of-Way in Washington State?

Vehicle-pedestrian collisions always result in more severe injuries for the pedestrian than the motor vehicle driver. Pedestrians are Washington State’s most vulnerable road users, meaning they are at the highest risk of suffering serious and fatal injuries in traffic accidents. Knowing when pedestrians have the right-of-way in Washington can help keep you safe as a pedestrian or prevent a tragic accident as a driver.

Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws in Washington State

The right-of-way refers to the legal right to proceed or go first on the road. Washington’s traffic laws give a certain person, vehicle or vessel the legal right to proceed ahead of others based on the specific situation. Understanding and respecting pedestrian right-of-way rules helps prevent pedestrian accidents in Washington involving people walking or jogging and motor vehicles.

Pedestrian right-of-way rules in Washington State include:

  • Controlled intersections: drivers and pedestrians must obey the signs and signals that indicate when they have the right-of-way. A pedestrian must wait until given the “Walk” signal to cross the road.
  • Uncontrolled intersections: pedestrians have the right-of-way but may not leave a curb or place of safety and enter a road when a vehicle is approaching at a speed or distance that does not allow the driver time to stop.
  • Crosswalks: pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked crosswalks. All drivers approaching a crosswalk with a pedestrian on his or her half of the road must come to a complete stop and wait until the pedestrian has entered the other side.
  • Sidewalks and driveways: pedestrians have the right-of-way when walking on sidewalks and crossing through driveways. Drivers who are entering or exiting parking lots or driveways must look for pedestrians and yield, when necessary.

If someone violates Washington’s right-of-way laws, it can cause a serious pedestrian accident. While it is important for pedestrians to exercise caution and obey traffic laws, drivers are in a position to inflict greater harm with their mistakes. All drivers in Washington must exercise due care to prevent pedestrian collisions.

Common Types of Pedestrian Accidents in Washington

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 136 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2022. Places where foot traffic and motor vehicle traffic intersect are the most dangerous locations for pedestrians in Washington State. Examples include busy city intersections and crosswalks, where both types of traffic must obey posted street signs and signals to avoid colliding.

Common types of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Intersection accidents
  • Left-turn pedestrian collisions
  • Crosswalk accidents
  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Drowsy driving collisions
  • School zone pedestrian accidents
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Distracted driving accidents
  • Pedestrian collisions due to poor weather
  • Road defect accidents

Pedestrian-vehicle collisions are often caused by human errors, such as driver negligence. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care, such as a driver ignoring a stop sign or red light and failing to stop for a crossing pedestrian. When negligence results in a pedestrian accident, the injured victim has the right to seek financial compensation for his or her losses from the at-fault party’s insurance provider.

If you or a loved one was recently injured in a pedestrian accident in Vancouver, contact the attorneys at NW Injury Law Center for a free case consultation.

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