Know the Law

Walk to School Day 2011

Safer Streets are Everyone’s Responsibility

In 2010, 18 Washingtonians died in traffic crashes; 11 were pedestrians. Over the past five years, 653 pedestrians were injured in a traffic crashes. Fatalities and injuries can be reduced, and everyone has a responsibility to ensure this occurs. 

Motorists should take the time and care to drive safely. Speeding, failing to stop, and running red lights and stop signs are the most common driver errors drivers make that lead to injuries and deaths. 

For pedestrians crossing at undesirable locations, failing to look both ways, and not following the directions of traffic signals or crossing guards can lead to serious injury or death.

Unsafe Pedestrian Behaviors 

  • Walking while intoxicated, wearing headphones, or while talking on a cell phone
  • Crossing a street at an undesirable or unsafe location
  • Not looking left, right, and left again before crossing the street
  • Darting out between parked cars into the path of oncoming cars
  • Wearing dark clothes when there is poor lighting
  • Not following the directions of traffic signals or crossing guards
  • Entering a stream of traffic and disrupting the flow

Unsafe Motorist Behaviors

  • Speeding through residential streets and school zones
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians, especially in crosswalks
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Turning right or left at intersections without yielding to pedestrians
  • Exiting or entering driveways or alleys without yielding to pedestrians
  • Passing stopped cars and school buses
  • Parking or stopping in crosswalks
  • Driving while distracted by cell phones, radios, people, or food
  • Driving while intoxicated 

Penalties for Motor Vehicle Violations Near Pedestrians

The following traffic safety violations have a penalty of a $250 fine and 3 points. Colliding with a pedestrian while committing any of the above listed offenses leads to a double fine of $500 and 6 points.

  1. Failure to stop and give right of way to a pedestrian who has begun crossing on the walk signal of a signalized intersection
  2. Overtaking a vehicle from the rear that is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway
  3. Failure to give right of way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk (e.g., alleys and parking lots)