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Pedestrian Accidents Caused By Poor Visibility & Darkness

There are a number of factors that contribute to a pedestrian accident, but data shows that the frequency of these collisions increases significantly once the sun sets and the daylight turns to darkness.

On a related note, the time of year can have a big impact on the risks of a pedestrian being hit by a car, as evidenced by the spike in pedestrian collisions between October and January – months when the daylight is scarce, even on the sunniest of days.

Bikers, joggers, roller bladers & skaters, skateboarders, scooter-riders, and walkers all face a very serious risk just simply by being around other vehicles. Pedestrians are not afforded the same physical protective environment as drivers and passengers in motor vehicles, and therefore are at risk of serious injury in the event of a collision.

Driver’s Duty To Yield To Pedestrians

Washington state law explicitly states that drivers have a duty to yield to pedestrians and exercise care whenever they are behind the wheel. Specifically, RCW 46.61.245 states:

“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.”

In addition to potential traffic infractions and – in extreme cases – criminal punishment, drivers who violate this duty may be subject to liability in the event that a pedestrian injured by the driver’s negligence chooses to pursue a personal injury claim against that driver.

Do Pedestrians Have To Wear Bright Clothing?

We have established that Washington state law places a duty on drivers to be alert and yield to pedestrians. This can be difficult in the darkness, and we have heard questions from pedestrian accident victims about whether they are legally required to wear bright clothing or take steps to make themselves more visible in the dark.

While many safety-focused initiatives often recommend that pedestrians wear bright clothing or carry flashing lights as a proactive public safety measure, there is no law requiring pedestrians to do so.

And while the lack of a law on the books requiring pedestrians to dress brighter means you won’t receive a citation for walking in dark clothing, it’s still probably a good idea to wear bright colors if you are going to be walking around at night.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.