Pedestrian Laws in Washington State

In Washington State, the definition of a pedestrian is broad and encompasses various individuals and their specific circumstances. According to Washington State law, a pedestrian includes:

  • Persons on Foot: Anyone walking or running.
  • Persons in Wheelchairs: Individuals using manual or motorized wheelchairs.
  • Persons Using Mobility Aids: Those using other mobility aids such as crutches, canes, or walkers.
  • Persons Using Small Rideable Devices: This includes individuals using devices such as skateboards, rollerblades, scooters (non-motorized and motorized, but not large motor vehicles like motorcycles), and similar devices.

The inclusive definition aims to ensure the safety and right-of-way considerations for all these groups in traffic and pedestrian infrastructure planning.

What Are The Pedestrian Laws in Washington State?

Pedestrian laws in Washington State are designed to ensure the safety of both pedestrians and drivers by establishing clear rules and responsibilities for all road users. These laws aim to minimize accidents and conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles by defining rights of way, specifying where and how pedestrians can cross streets, and outlining the obligations of drivers to yield to pedestrians in various situations.

Right of Way

The term “right of way” refers to the legal right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation.

  • Marked Crosswalks: Pedestrians have the right of way at marked crosswalks.
  • Unmarked Crosswalks: Pedestrians also have the right of way at intersections, even if there are no marked crosswalks.
  • Yielding to Pedestrians: Drivers must yield to pedestrians when they are in a crosswalk and stop if a pedestrian is on their half of the roadway or approaching closely from the opposite half.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

Pedestrians also have to take care not to act in ways that put themselves in danger. For example:

  • Pedestrians must not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impossible for the driver to yield.
  • Pedestrians must use crosswalks at intersections where traffic signals are present.
  • Pedestrians must follow traffic signals and signs.

Sidewalks and Roadways

With regards to sidewalks and roadways, there are also laws:

  • Sidewalks: Pedestrians must use sidewalks when they are available. If no sidewalk is available, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the roadway or the shoulder, facing traffic.
  • Prohibited Areas: Pedestrians are not allowed to walk on freeways or other restricted highways unless specifically permitted.

Pedestrian Control Signals

Pedestrians must always obey pedestrian control signals.

  • A “WALK” or a walking person symbol means pedestrians may start crossing the roadway in the direction of the signal.
  • A flashing “DON’T WALK” or upraised hand symbol means pedestrians should not start crossing but may continue if they have already begun.
  • A steady “DON’T WALK” or upraised hand means pedestrians must not enter the roadway.

Traffic Signals

Pedestrians must obey regular traffic signals if no pedestrian control signals are present.


Crossing the street outside of a crosswalk is considered jaywalking. Pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles when crossing outside of a crosswalk. Jaywalking can result in a citation and a fine.

Contact Us Today

Recovering from a pedestrian accident can be daunting, but with the Kent pedestrian accident attorneys at Brumley Law Firm by your side, you can navigate this challenging journey with confidence. Our legal expertise is dedicated to securing justice for pedestrians affected by such accidents. Call (833) 832-2727 today or use our online form to schedule your free consultation.