There was a Reddit discussion about this gif, which shows an accident involving a man stopped at a crosswalk who is basically invisible from a distance due to a bright light. Some are saying the pedestrian always has right of way, while others are saying the pedestrian shouldn't have stopped in the crosswalk in the first place. Who's at fault?

1 Answer 1


When a pedestrian is in a clearly marked crosswalk, and didn't suddenly leap out in front of an oncoming car, the vehicle operator is legally obligated to stop. Stop, not merely slow down, see for example RCW 46.61.235

The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section "half of the roadway" means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway

It is legal to stop and ask "Excuse me, can I pass?", or words to that effect, in case a pedestrian gets stalled. There is no defense whereby you don't have to stop if it is dark, or you are free to ignore pedestrians in the crosswalk if there is a bright light. The burden is on the driver to see the pedestrian that he is about to hit. It is also not a defense that the guy in the right lane did not previously cream the pedestrian. The pedestrian is not invisible, although perhaps because of the light it was not possible to see the pedestrian until the car is maybe 20 feet away. If the driver had slowed down in a manner appropriate to the circumstances (as is required by law), he could have easily stopped before the crosswalk. It is not a defense that "this street is posted for 30, I was doing 30", because you are never allowed to drive faster than is safe for existing conditions.

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