Road Rules 101: Pedestrians in crosswalks

May 22, 2019 by PEMCO Insurance

When should I stop for pedestrians at intersections, especially on multilane roads when they have yet to reach my side of the street?

Pedestrian entering crosswalk.In Washington, you must stop "if 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." In other words, you need to stop and remain stopped if the pedestrian is even approaching the center line (separating lanes traveling in opposite directions) until he or she has completed the crossing. For one-way streets, the rule applies to the entire width of the road. Oregon's language is only slightly different. It says (paraphrasing) that drivers must stop and remain stopped if the pedestrian has reached the lane adjacent to theirs or, if the driver is preparing to turn, is within six feet of that lane.

Crosswalks exist at all corners. Painted markings or not, when you see someone who has indicated an intent to cross (e.g., stepping off the curb), you're required to stop and remain stopped until that person has cleared the lanes as outlined above.

In the case of flashing red lights at crosswalks (sometimes seen around schools), you must treat the light as a stop sign. That is, come to a full stop, check for oncoming pedestrian and vehicle traffic and proceed only if it's clear as shown above.

Pedestrians, too, must obey traffic signals and cross only at crosswalks. Crossing is not permitted when prohibited by an official sign.

NOTE: While we're experts in loss prevention and home/auto safety, we don't consider ourselves experts in traffic laws or their enforcement. Information shared here is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have legal concerns, we urge you to contact a law enforcement source or attorney in your community.

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