Question: 1. Do I need to stop for jaywalkers? I have had many times downtown where people are attempting to cross the street in the middle of the block, not bothering to walk the 10 feet to the crosswalk. If I fail to stop for them would I get a ticket?
2. The bus service recently moved a bus stop on Northwest Avenue. Now there is a lot of foot traffic crossing to and from the bus stop to the opposite side of the road, but there is no crosswalk there. However, the pedestrians are crossing from a driveway to a driveway across the street. Are they protected from jaywalking?
3. I observe motorists stopping their vehicles in traffic to encourage pedestrians to cross the road where there is no stop sign, crosswalk or traffic signal. In this scenario I think the motorist is performing a traffic violation, causing confusion for other motorists and the pedestrians, and causing an unsafe condition. Are these motorists performing a traffic violation?
Answer: I combined these questions as they are all quite similar. The applicable law sections first: RCW 46.61.240, crossing at other than crosswalks. 1. 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 of way to all vehicles upon the roadway. 4. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
Next is RCW 46.61.245, drivers to exercise care. 1. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this chapter 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 and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
So no, you should not get a ticket for not stopping. Common sense says that if they are not paying attention or there is likely to be contact with them, that you need to stop. The fact that they are supposed to yield doesn't mean that they will. There are also a few blocks in Bellingham that have mid-block crosswalks (Cornwall Avenue).
For the second question, jaywalking actually deals with crossing mid-block when there are traffic/pedestrian control devices at each end, so it would not be applicable to the area on Northwest. See RCW 46.61.240 (4).
For the third question, if there are no crosswalks, stop signs, traffic signals or intersections, it does create a confusing and unsafe condition for both the pedestrian and driver.
ABOUT RULES OF THE ROAD
Rules of the Road is an online forum with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. To ask a question, use this form.
DAVID WRIGHT is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.