Walking around Washington DC can be a dangerous way to get around. In fact, in 2018, pedestrian deaths climbed in the DC area by nearly 20%. Of the 290 traffic fatalities in the greater Washington area that year, a third were pedestrians – the most in over a decade.
The increase in pedestrian accidents throughout the Washington DC area mirrors what has been seen across the country. In 2017, nearly 20% of the more than 37,000 people killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians or cyclists, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The reasons why pedestrian accidents are on the rise remains unclear. But safety experts believe there are multiple factors involved, including:
- Street designs that aren’t pedestrian friendly
- Increased pedestrians on roads due to urban growth
- Major streets in DC missing sidewalks and clear crosswalks
- Increase in distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Impaired driving
To combat the increase in pedestrian accidents, transportation and city officials have enacted a “Vision Zero” program to push for safer roads. This program aims to educate the public about pedestrian accidents, increase enforcement of existing street laws, and improve changes in street designs. As part of that program, the District is reducing speed limits on major pedestrian heavy areas and increasing fines for those who violate these laws.
Washington DC Pedestrian Laws: the Basics
One of the ways pedestrians can reduce their risk of being involved in a serious and fatal pedestrian accident is to understand the pedestrian laws in Washington DC and how these laws pertain to them. Some of the basic pedestrian laws in Washington DC include:
- Crosswalks Without Signals – if a pedestrian is at a crosswalk without a signal, the vehicle drivers must stop and wait for the pedestrian to cross. Pedestrians must be mindful of traffic when they cross; however, they have the right of way.
- Sidewalks – pedestrians have the right of way on all sidewalks in the DC area.
- Right on Red – pedestrians who are in the crosswalk have the right of way over any vehicle turning right on red. All vehicles must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- Turning on Green – when turning on green, all vehicles must stop and wait for any pedestrian who has already started crossing the street on their appropriate walk signal.
- Walking on Roadways – when a sidewalk has been provided, pedestrians are not allowed to walk on or along roadways. If a sidewalk has not been provided, then pedestrians may only walk on the left side of the roadway facing traffic.
- Crossing Outside of Crosswalk – if a pedestrian wishes to cross the street outside of a crosswalk, they must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching.
- Diagonal Crossing – all pedestrians are prohibited from crossing the road at an intersection in a diagonal manner.
Changing Washington DC Pedestrian Laws
In 2016, the Council of the District of Columbia repealed the city’s “contributory negligence” law as it applies to pedestrians and cyclists. Under the old law, pedestrians who were found to be even a little bit responsible for their own accident were prevented from recovering compensation.
Now, under the new law, pedestrians who are not found to be more than 50% liable for their own accident are allowed to recover 100% of their proven damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Contact Our Experienced Washington DC Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Washington DC, you may face a long uphill battle when trying to collect compensation. Pedestrian accident laws are changing in Washington D.C. That’s why you need an experienced and skilled Washington DC pedestrian accident attorney on your side from the moment you are injured.
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our Washington DC pedestrian accident attorneys know that you need money to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other compensation. To learn more about your legal rights after a devastating pedestrian accident, contact our law firm by calling (202) 742-1500 or (888) 625-6635 or filling out our confidential contact form. We offer a free initial consultation for all injured accident victims and can help you choose the legal path that is best for you. Call today!