Whether you enjoy walking as a form of exercise or you walk for more pragmatic reasons, such as to get from point A to point B, it should not be considered a dangerous activity. Sadly, however, pedestrian traffic accidents are on the rise across the nation, and Washington State is no exception.
A fatal pedestrian crash occurs approximately once every two hours across the nation, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC statistics also reveal that, on average, eight pedestrians are injured each hour in pedestrian traffic crashes. In 2010 alone, 4,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, and another 70,000 were injured. In Washington State, 64 pedestrians were fatally injured in traffic accidents during 2011, which represented an increase of three deaths from the previous year.
People Most at Risk of a Pedestrian Traffic Accident
More people are walking than just a decade ago. The increase in pedestrian traffic is due, in large part, to an emphasis on both the environment and health. Some environmentally conscious individuals choose to walk or ride a bicycle whenever practical. Health-conscious Washington residents often take to the streets for an evening stroll as a way to stay in shape while enjoying the state’s beautiful scenery. Many other people walk because it is the most practical way for them to get where they are going.
Unfortunately, all pedestrians are at risk of becoming the victim of a traffic collision.
However, there are some factors and characteristics that increase the risk, including:
- Age – Both children and older adults are at a higher risk of injury in a pedestrian traffic accident. According to the CDC, adults over the age of 65 accounted for almost 20 percent of all pedestrian traffic deaths and just over 10 percent of all injuries in 2010. Likewise, one-fifth of children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in a traffic crash that year were pedestrians.
- Impairment – CDC data says that 47 percent of all traffic-related pedestrian accident fatalities in 2010 involved alcohol impairment as a factor for either the driver of the vehicle or the pedestrian who was killed.
- Location – Two-thirds of fatal pedestrian traffic accidents occur in urban areas. While dark country roads can certainly set the stage for a tragic pedestrian accident, urban streets are the more likely scene. Speed, however, does play a role: the higher the posted speed limit, the higher the probability of a pedestrian fatality, according to the NHTSA.
- Time – The hours between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. are statistically the riskiest for a pedestrian, followed closely by the hours between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. In addition, the two deadliest days of the year for a pedestrian are January 1 and October 31.
Washington State Pedestrian Laws
The laws in Washington are fairly straightforward and pedestrian-friendly.
Some of the more important pedestrian laws include:
- RCW 46.61.245 – Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.
- RCW 46.61.250 – Pedestrians must use sidewalks when they are available. If sidewalks are not available, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic.
- RCW 46.61.261 – Drivers and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks.
- RCW 46.61.235 – Vehicles shall stop at intersections to allow pedestrians and bicycles to cross the road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
If the motorist was entirely, or even just partially, at fault for the accident, then the pedestrian victim (or surviving family members in the event of a fatal accident) may be entitled to compensation for the injuries caused in the collision.
Hit by a Car While Walking? Call Our Yakima Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian traffic accident in Washington State, contact the Yakima personal injury attorneys at the Mariano Morales Law Firm for a free initial consultation. Call us now at (509) 972-0493 or fill out our online contact form. If we handle your case, we receive payment only if we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.