How Most Pedestrian Accidents Occur and What You Can Do to Stay Safe in Washington

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Unfortunately, our roads are not as safe as they should be for pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 7,388 pedestrians were killed and 60,000 were injured in motor vehicle collisions nationwide in 2021. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reports that there were 1,865 confirmed pedestrian collisions in our state in 2023. Unfortunately, 142 pedestrians were killed and many hundreds more were seriously hurt in these cases. Here, our Washington pedestrian accident attorney explains the most common causes of pedestrian collisions and offers five tips that you can use to stay safe. 

The Most Common Reasons Why Pedestrian Crashes Happen in Washington

Pedestrian accidents happen for a wide range of different reasons. However, these crashes almost invariably share a central commonality: These crashes are largely preventable with the proper safety precautions. Many pedestrian accidents do share common causes. Here are in an overview of some of the most common reasons why pedestrian accidents occur in Washington: 

  • Distracted Driving: A primary cause of pedestrian crashes is distracted driving. Drivers using smartphones, navigation systems, or other in-car distractions are far less likely to notice pedestrians crossing streets or walking along roadways. The lack of attention can lead to delayed reactions. A significant proportion of pedestrian crashes are distracted driving collisions. 
  • Exceso de velocidad: Speeding is dangerous—especially in urban areas where there are a lot of pedestrians around. Not only does speeding make a pedestrian crash more likely to happen, it increases the resulting severity.  Speeding also reduces the effectiveness of road safety measures that are designed to protect pedestrians. 
  • Failure to Yield: Unless there is a traffic signal stating otherwise, pedestrians are assumed to have the right of way at intersections in Washington. Failure to yield may be caused by drivers misunderstanding traffic laws, their impatience, or them simply not noticing pedestrians. 
  • Intoxicated Driving: Driving under the influence impairs a person’s judgment, their coordination, and even their reaction time. Intoxicated drivers are less capable of recognizing pedestrian movement and reacting appropriately, leading to a higher risk of crashes involving pedestrians. An impaired driver must be held accountable. 
  • Pedestrian Error: Not all pedestrian crashes are blamed on drivers. It is possible that a pedestrian could be held partially (or wholly) liable for their own accident. Pedestrian errors—from jaywalking to ignoring traffic signals to walking while distracted—can contribute to serious accidents. Pedestrians should proactively protect their own safety. 

Five Tips Pedestrians Can Use to Stay Safe 

Tip #1: Following Traffic Signals When Crossing Busy Streets

In Washington, pedestrians have a duty to follow traffic signals—if present—when crossing the street. It is also one of the most important safety practices for pedestrians. Crossing a street against a traffic signal is dangerous. Pedestrians should always wait for the walk signal before crossing and never assume that drivers will automatically yield. Not only will complying with signals reduce your risk of being involved in an accident, it will make it easier to bring a claim if one happens. 

Tip #2: Use Sidewalks Whenever Possible 

Unfortunately, Washington’s pedestrian infrastructure is far from perfect. There are no sidewalks available in every location. Many stretches of road in suburban areas and rural areas lack sidewalks. Still, when there are sidewalks, you should always use them. Even if a sidewalk is only available on one side of the road, it is a best practice to safely cross the street and use that sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, you should walk facing oncoming traffic. 

Tip #3: Try to Make Yourself Visible to Drivers

Visibility is another key factor in pedestrian safety. Pedestrians should try to proactively enhance visibility to drivers. It could be by wearing bright or reflective clothing, carrying a flashlight at night, and trying to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street—as doing so ensures that the driver has seen you and is more likely to stop. Pedestrian safety is about visibility. 

Tip #4: Beware of Cars Entering/Exiting Driveways and Parking Lots

A significant share of pedestrian collisions in Washington happen when vehicles are entering or exiting driveways or parking lots. These are high risk situations because drivers are often not prepared to encounter pedestrians in that situation. To mitigate this risk, always pause and look for cars turning into or out of driveways and parking areas. Once again, try to make eye contact with drivers whenever it is possible to do so. 

Tip #5: Take Extra Safety Precautions at Night

Most pedestrian fatalities happen during the day. Yet, 30 percent of pedestrian deaths in Washington happen at night. Considering only a small share of walking actually happens at night, this means that nighttime walking is dramatically more dangerous. With this in mind, pedestrians who need to walk at night should always take additional safety precautions. If there are no sidewalks available, it is best to simply avoid walking at night whenever possible. 

Injured Pedestrians Deserve Full and Fair Financial Compensation

Pedestrian accident claims are complicated. If you were struck by a vehicle, it is imperative that you get immediate medical attention for any injuries. You have the right to bring a legal claim against the at-fault driver or any other at-fault party. Our Washington pedestrian crash attorneys fight to protect the rights and interests of injured pedestrians. You may be able to recover for: 

  • Emergency medical treatment; 
  • Hospital bills; 
  • Other medical costs; 
  • Loss of wages; 
  • Loss of earning power; 
  • Dolor y sufrimiento; 
  • Emotional distress; 
  • Discapacidad a largo plazo; y
  • Wrongful death. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Washington Pedestrian Injury Lawyer

At Premier Law Group, PLLC, our Washington pedestrian accident attorneys are skilled, experienced, and justice-driven advocates for victims and their families. If you or your loved one was hurt in a pedestrian crash, we are here to help. Contáctenos today to set up your no cost, no obligation case review. From our offices in Seattle, Renton, Federal Way, and Bellevue, we fight for the rights of pedestrians throughout the region in Western Washington.