According to information published by PEMCO Insurance, distracted 'walking' is becoming nearly as big a problem as digitally distracted driving.

On the heels of a fatal accident in Spokane, authorities say people watching their phones and not where they're walking is causing issues.

A two year snapshot of Washington drivers, says PEMCO, shows that 32 percent of accidents involved a distracted driver, while 14 percent walkers or pedestrians when it comes to what are called 'deadly' pedestrian accidents.

From 2010 to 2015 the number of fatal pedestrian deaths has climbed 25 percent, while the number of fatal car crashes during that period rose only 6 percent. Honolulu is the only major city that has passed a 'texting while walking' ban, if a cop sees you glued to your phone while crossing a street or in a busy area on sidewalk, you can get a non-criminal citation. The city of Montclair, a suburb of LA, recently passed a similar ban.

While these, say PEMCO, are sensitive and dicey ideas, they do pass on what pedestrians need to know about the LAW when it comes to traffic. In Washington state it's illegal for a pedestrian to:

  • Disregard traffic signals. It's illegal to step into a crosswalk after the "Don't Walk" sign starts to flash.
  • step into a crosswalk without allowing an oncoming vehicle 'reasonable' time to stop.
  • Cross a street diagonally (at an angle) unless traffic control systems allow you do so.
  • Fail to use sidewalks if they are available, and walk alongside a road not facing traffic. (We didn't know that last one!)

Also, many people think a crosswalk MUST be painted at a corner for it to 'count' as a cross walk, but that is not the case. Any corner at an intersection CAN be used by pedestrians to cross straight to the other side. But a driver does not have to stop for a person simply standing on a corner. The walker must clearly show intent to cross by stepping off the curb after (of course) making sure no vehicle are nearby.

While most of the time car vs. pedestrian results in a citation for the motorist, increasing numbers of such accidents are not, especially if the person is 'crossing in the middle of the street and not paying attention.'  Officials say this is especially an issue for high school students.