When do you have right of way as a pedestrian?

A number of pedestrian accidents can be avoided or prevented with a working awareness of the applicable Washington laws. One of the common causes of pedestrian accidents is failure to yield right-of-way on the part of the driver or the pedestrian.

WAC132E-16-040

Stopping for the pedestrian.

“The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk — unmarked or marked — when the pedestrian is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.”
This law clarifies that pedestrians who are walking in a marked or unmarked crosswalk have the right-of-way. It is the obligation of the driver to yield to all pedestrians legally entering traffic at a crosswalk. Drivers who neglect to obey a pedestrian’s right-of-way could be held liable for any accident or resulting injuries.

Pedestrian sudden movements

“No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.”
This law refers to pedestrians who suddenly enter the road in front of traffic. Motorists who do not have time to avoid a pedestrian because the pedestrian ran into traffic will not be held totally at fault for the accident. It should be noted that there are circumstances where a driver should have been able to avoid the accident if they were focused and alert. This law also comes into question when a car is in a school zone and a child runs into traffic. In certain areas, especially school zones, drivers have a duty of care, which means they must be more alert and cautious, knowing that there are children at play.

Passing or overtaking vehicles stopped for pedestrian

“Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.”
When a vehicle does the right thing, and yields to a pedestrian at a crosswalk, any approaching vehicle must also yield. Drivers who behave recklessly because they are in a hurry can be held accountable for their actions.

Yielding right-of-way to oncoming vehicles

“Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than in a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”
While pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, drivers have the right-of-way on other areas of a roadway. Jaywalking or crossing against the light is illegal and pedestrians could be found at fault if they break the rules of the road.

Curb ramps

“Where curb ramps exist at or adjacent to intersections or at marked crosswalks in other locations, disabled persons may enter the roadway from the curb ramps and cross the roadway within or as closely as practicable to the crosswalk. All other pedestrian rights and duties as defined elsewhere in this code remain applicable.”
This law gives special permission for the disabled to use ramps whenever necessary. Not all intersections have proper ramps so someone in a wheelchair may have to enter the roadway before an intersection.

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