Generally, all drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and on sidewalks. Whether in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, drivers must stop their vehicle whenever a pedestrian is crossing through their half of the roadway. Yet, do pedestrians always have the right of way in Washington? Let’s find out below.

What Are Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks?

Whether marked or unmarked, crosswalks allow pedestrians a safe path across the street.

Marked crosswalks contain painted lines that stretch from curb to curb. These lines denote the safe area in which pedestrians can walk across the roadway. In addition, these lines are also designed to alert motorists of potential pedestrian crossing locations that are not controlled by a traffic signal.

Unmarked crosswalks, usually located at intersections, are not clearly defined with paint and typically span between corner to corner.

If a pedestrian is crossing in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, then they have the right of way, and motorists must yield to them.

When Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right of Way

Walking across the street outside of a crosswalk, otherwise known as jaywalking, is against the law in Washington. When jaywalking, pedestrians do not have the right of way and must yield to motorists. If a pedestrian does not yield to a motorist and attempts to cross the street outside of a crosswalk, then he or she may receive a citation or fine.

Understanding Pedestrian Crossing Signals

In the state of Washington, you will find many intersections with established pedestrian signals that regulate when it is safe to cross the street. According to the law, all road users — including pedestrians and motorists — must adhere to these traffic signals.

Here are the pedestrian signals that you will find in Washington, as stated by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD):

  • Walking personthe signal of a person walking denotes when it is safe to walk across the street.
  • Upraised hand: the signal of an upraised hand alerts pedestrians that is not safe to walk across the street. When the hand signal is flashing, only pedestrians already in the crosswalk may continue to the other side. All other pedestrians may not enter the crosswalk. A steady upraised hand means that no pedestrian may enter the crosswalk.
  • Countdown timer: countdown timers are required for pedestrian change intervals that last longer than seven seconds. If a timer has already begun counting down, then you must make sure that you will have enough time to cross before entering the crosswalk.

Tips to Prevent Pedestrian-Related Accidents

While drivers do not plan on hitting pedestrians, and while pedestrians have no intention of getting hit by a car, accidents still happen. In order to help prevent the growing number of pedestrian-related accidents, AAA offers a few guidelines to exercise when on the roadway.

Tips for Pedestrians:

  • Do not walk on the road while under the influence.
  • Look both ways and keep attentive when crossing the road.
  • Obey all traffic signals and only cross the street when it is safe to do so.
  • Stay visible to motorists, especially at night.

Tips for Drivers:

  • Stay alert whenever you drive — distracted driving is a major cause of accidents on the roadway.
  • Never drive under the influence.
  • Slow down and obey all posted speed limits, especially in areas of high pedestrian foot traffic.

Where You Involved in a Pedestrian-Related Accident?

Do pedestrians always have the right of way in Washington? It depends on the situation. Drivers must always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and on sidewalks. However, pedestrians must yield to motorists outside of crosswalks.

If you were involved in a pedestrian-related accident, our seasoned legal team at Etengoff Pak Law Group is ready to help. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.