Safe. Healthy. Affordable.

Pedestrian Safety

Whether we're walking to the store, skateboarding to school, heading to work using a wheelchair, or pushing our child in a stroller for an afternoon walk, we all deserve to get where we're going safely. Every time.

In Pierce County, 267 pedestrians were hit by cars in 2018, 14 of them were killed. 

These risks don't affect everyone equally:

Pedestrian safety requires a comprehensive approach--one that addresses how our streets are designed and funded, strengthens education for all road users, helps ensure that the rules of the road are followed, and aims to eliminate disparities in safely and access. Our coalition is working on all of these and we hope you'll join us!

As we do this work collectively, there are actions that individuals can take every time they get behind the wheel of a car or walk and roll using active modes to improve the safety of our transportation system for all.

What does the law say?

Here's a summary of pedestrian laws from the Washington State Department of Transportation:

  • Stop for pedestrians at intersections - Vehicles shall stop at intersections to allow pedestrians and bicycles to cross the road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk (RCW 46.61.235). See Washington's Crosswalk Law for more information.
  • Sidewalks - Drivers and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks (RCW 46.61.261).
  • Yield to vehicles outside intersections - Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right way to all vehicles upon the roadway (RCW 46.61.240).
  • Traffic signals - Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and traffic control devices unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer (RCW 46.61.050).
  • Pedestrians on roadways - 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 46.61.250).
  • Bolting into traffic - No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb and move into traffic so that the driver can not stop (RCW 46.61.235).
  • Drivers exercise due care - 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 46.61.245). 

Watch for signs like these in the community to remind people driving and bicycling to yield to people crossing the street. 

When I drive, what else can I do to make sure I am supporting efforts to make sure we all get where we're going safely? 

Slow Down

In their work to end serious and fatal crashes by 2030, the City of Seattle found that "people who are walking are twice as likely to live after being hit by a car at 25 MPH than 30 MPH." Slowing down saves lives.

End Impaired Driving

Half of all Washington State roadway fatalities are due to impaired driving. If you're using alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs (legal or not, over the counter or prescription) - do not risk your life or the lives of others by driving impaired. 

On the Road, Off the Phone. It's the Law. 

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, drivers are 3x more likely to be in a crash while talking on the phone and 30% of crash fatalities are due to distracted driving. More information at: http://wadrivetozero.com/distracted-driving/

Dutch Reach

The Washington State Drivers' manual was just updated with new information on the "Dutch Reach" to prevent hitting bicyclists or other cars when opening a door (also known as "dooring"). Here's what the Department of Licensing now recommends after parking:

"Check traffic before you open the door. Get out of the vehicle on the curb side if you can. When opening a vehicle door, drivers and passengers should do the following: (1) Check your rear-view mirror. (2) Check your side-view mirror. (3) Open the door with your far hand (the hand farthest from the door). This is call the "Dutch Reach" method which originated in the Netherlands. It forces your body to turn, which will better allow you to see approaching bicyclists. It also prevents the vehicle door from being open too fast. This not only protects bicyclists, but can also prevent your door from being damaged or torn off by an approaching motor vehicle. Shut the door as soon as you can after getting out." 

As a pedestrian, what can I do to make my trip more pleasant and safe?

Here are some tips we've pulled together to help you make the most out of your trip!

In Tacoma? Use these versions instead (they include information about Tacoma's 311 system): EnglishKhmerKoreanLaotianRussianSpanish, and Vietnamese.

I can't get enough of pedestrian safety! How can I get involved?

  • Sign up for our monthly email newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bv7Irv 
  • Join the AT COI! Email hminer@pwi.org to learn more about opportunities to get involved with the full COI, one of our strategy teams or other ways to plug in!

*Thanks to the City of Seattle Vision Zero team and the City of Tacoma's This Lane is Your Lane campaign for inspiration!