crosswalk sign

According to a study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian fatalities in the state of Washington have been on the rise since 2019. In the study, it was found that there were 44 pedestrian fatalities in 2019, 39 in 2020, 58 in 2021, and a projected 68 fatalities in 2022. Furthermore, the importance of pedestrian safety in Washington should be carefully considered and assessed. Every state has specific laws pertaining to pedestrians, and in this article, we will uncover the pedestrian laws that have been enacted in Washington state. 

Using Crosswalks 

All pedestrians must follow Washington’s crosswalk laws, as spelled out in RCW 46.61.235. Under these laws, pedestrians must use crosswalks, if they are available, and refrain from unexpectedly walking or running in front of a vehicle, leaving a driver in a position in which they are unable to reasonably stop. It is important to note that Washington defines every intersection as a crosswalk unless there are specific signs denoting otherwise. If an individual commits a crosswalk infraction in a school zone, fines will be doubled, and half of the collected fines will be deposited into the school’s zone safety account. 

Jaywalking

Although jaywalking is now legal in states such as California, it is still illegal in the state of Washington. However, there have been movements towards changing these laws under Senate Bill 5383, also known as the “Free to Walk” Bill. If passed, this bill would allow pedestrians to jaywalk across the street so long as the speed limit is 45 miles per hour or less and the act does not impede the flow of traffic. Currently, the fine for jaywalking is approximately $70.

Driver Responsibilities

As the Kent bicycle accident lawyers at Brumley Law Firm describe, drivers also play a part in ensuring the safety of pedestrians in Washington. Most notably, drivers must yield to pedestrians in both unmarked and marked crosswalks. As explained in RCW 46.61.245, drivers are expected to exercise due care around pedestrians, use their horns when necessary, and be particularly careful around children, school zones, and incapacitated individuals. If a driver commits an infraction in a school zone, including the school, playground, or crosswalk, fines are doubled.

Using Sidewalks

If there is an accessible sidewalk, pedestrians are required to use it under RCW 46.61.250. However, if no sidewalk is accessible, pedestrians must move to the far shoulder of the road, facing the direction of traffic. If the shoulder is inaccessible or nonexistent, pedestrians must walk as closely as they can to the outside edge of the road, facing traffic. However, this can be very dangerous to do and is not advisable, as it greatly increases the chances of a pedestrian accident occurring. 

Target Zero

To reduce traffic deaths and injuries in the state, Washington has created an initiative called “Target Zero.” This campaign seeks to reduce the number of traffic-related deaths and injuries to zero by the year 2030. Adopting these aforementioned pedestrian laws, along with Washington’s other laws will make the world of a difference in obtaining safer roads and reaching the goals set out by Target Zero.

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