Pedestrian Accidents Continue to Surge in Oregon – Learn How To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Pedestrian Accident Victim.
Oregon pedestrian accidents have increased by 51% in the last five years according to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s 2012 Oregon Traffic Crash Summary. The alarming truth is pedestrian accidents result in more fatalities than motorcycle and bicycle accidents combined. While this statistic might be surprising to most people, it reflects a growing problem of safely integrating pedestrians into the high traffic environments of our urban cities.
Examples of Oregon pedestrian accident victims in the news highlight these statistics:
- Washington woman identified as pedestrian fatally injured by Portland MAX train >
- Pedestrian dies in hit-and-run crash on Southeast Portland’s Powell Boulevard >
- Pedestrian seriously injured in Portland crash >
Where and when are pedestrian accident victims most at risk?
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, almost 3 out of 4 pedestrian fatalities and accidents occur in urban as opposed to rural settings. In Portland, historical traffic data shows that less than 5% of Portland’s arterial roads ( high volume, multi-lane roadways) account for over 66% of Portland’s pedestrian fatalities, and for almost 60% of the serious pedestrian injuries. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has identified the Top 10 High Crash Corridors in Portland where pedestrians are at most risk. While Portland is actively pursuing corrective actions, it is still up to each pedestrian to understand risk factors and necessary preventative actions.
The single most common pedestrian accident victim action, at the time of an accident, is attempting to cross an intersection or roadway. In spite of the fact that crosswalks, signals, and right of way laws protect pedestrians when they are crossing an intersection, drivers have a difficult time seeing pedestrians in a busy intersection. Another telling statistic is that 68% of pedestrian accidents occur at night, or in the twilight hours. Two other actions that add to the increased risks associated with pedestrian accidents include walking along a highway or a roadway (not on a sidewalk), and standing, working, or playing in the roadway. In each of these situations, drivers are not anticipating the presence of a pedestrian.
What are the most frequent errors and actions that cause pedestrian accident victims?
Oregon accident statistics would indicate that approximately 60% of the time the driver’s actions are responsible for causing the pedestrian accident. There are three main types of driver errors that account for this large percentage of accidents, including:
- Failure to yield the right-of-way,
- Disregarding traffic signals, and
- Careless, distracted, or under-the-influence driving.
Actions by pedestrian accident victims account for 40% of the accidents, with primary pedestrian errors including:
- Disregarding traffic signals,
- Crossing a roadway (not at an intersection) and failing to yield the right-of-way,
- Blocking, standing, or playing in the roadway, and
- Improperly walking along a roadway.
What can you do to prevent pedestrian accidents?
There are four key things every pedestrian should do to minimize the chances of being involved in a catastrophic pedestrian accident:
Recognize that urban settings require pedestrians to exercise more caution when crossing streets. At an intersection, you may have the legal right of way, but if the driver doesn’t see you, your actions may result in debilitating injuries. Pedestrian control signals are designed to safely integrate pedestrians into traffic flow at busy intersections. Oregon law states “a pedestrian shall NOT START to cross the roadway” when the signal indicates “Wait” or “Don’t Walk”. A pedestrian may START crossing a roadway on a signal showing “Walk” and proceed with dispatch to a sidewalk or safety island while the signal indicates “Wait” or “Don’t Walk”.
Exercise special caution when crossing streets, roadways, and driveways. Seventy-seven percent of pedestrian accidents involve a driver turning onto another street (either left or right) and failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the street. Before stepping into the crosswalk look to be sure the driver sees you and acknowledges your presence and right-of-way. Also, remember that a pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing a street or roadway at any point other than a marked crosswalk or at an intersection.
Increase your visibility at night. Sixty-eight percent of fatalities occur at night or in the twilight hours when it is difficult for drivers to see anyone wearing dark clothing. Always carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing. These simple actions can improve a driver’s ability to see you and prevent catastrophic injuries. Black or dark clothing typically reflect less than 5% of light, while the brightest whites reflect only 50-60% of light. Reflective vests can boost this substantially and allow drivers to see you at distances 3-10X further. This is especially true when walking along a highway at night. The best protection is provided when retro-reflective material is placed on movable portions of your clothing – sleeves, shoes, and pant legs, as opposed to only the back or chest.
If you find it necessary to walk along a highway where there is NO sidewalk, then walk facing the oncoming traffic on the shoulder of the road (not on the paved roadway). Statistics indicate there is almost a 4X higher pedestrian accident rate when you walk with the traffic. Always use a sidewalk when available (it is Oregon law), but when there are no sidewalks, Oregon law requires a pedestrian to walk on the LEFT side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic, as far as practical from the roadway edge. This will permit you to see oncoming vehicles and take evasive action if necessary.
Clearly, More Can Be Done
As a Portland pedestrian accident attorney, I have represented many innocent pedestrians who were injured by careless drivers. It is never easy for victims and their families to recover from debilitating injuries or wrongful death caused by a careless driver. I encourage organizations like Oregon DOT and Portland’s Bureau of Transportation to keep the public’s focus on pedestrian safety issues, and aggressively implement the corrective actions defined in the High Crash Corridor Program.
Travis Mayor, Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
I represent personal injury and accident victims in the Portland Metropolitan Area, Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties, and throughout the state of Oregon. I provide this Blog as an educational and informational service for Oregon residents. It is not intended to be legal advice, as every case is unique and should be accurately evaluated. If you or a family member have been in an accident and would like a FREE professional consultation with an attorney, call me at (503) 444-2825, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about your legal rights.