Monday, April 16, 2012

Walking and warm weather go well together; make it safe!

Courtesy or the Oregon Department of Transportation and ACTS Oregon
Warmer weather and longer days naturally bring out more walkers, so the Oregon Department of Transportation is encouraging both pedestrians and motorists to be on the lookout for one another. After a long stormy winter, they may not be accustomed to traveling around each other, but it is each individual’s responsibility to be safe – on foot or behind the wheel.

So far this year (as of April 11), 20 pedestrians have died in vehicle-related crashes. That’s up 25 percent over this time last year. A review of recent “springtime” vehicle/pedestrian crashes (April – June of both 2010 and 2011) finds a total of 24 fatalities in 23 crashes.

“The data show a mix of reasons for crashes and the pedestrian fatalities,” said Julie Yip, Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Program manager for ODOT. “But a large percentage – about 70 percent – of the crashes show some action of the pedestrian was a contributing factor, so we want to remind walkers how important it is to be alert, be seen and follow the law.”

In 16 of the 23 crashes from these two periods, the pedestrian was illegally in the roadway, such as crossing between intersections or not yielding right of way to the vehicle that struck them. Seven of the 24 pedestrians killed wore dark clothing that made them not visible to the driver. About 58 percent of the pedestrians who died had some level of alcohol in their systems, with 42 percent of those having a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater, Oregon’s minimum legal limit for impaired driving.

Driver errors and impairment also contributed to some crashes. One crash that killed two pedestrians involved a driver not stopping as the pedestrians crossed in a crosswalk. Two drivers had alcohol in their systems.

Overall, Oregon is down slightly in vehicle-related fatalities for 2012 (74 deaths so far compared to 76 at this time in 2011). Safety advocates want to see that downward trend continue – and hope it includes fewer pedestrian fatalities.

The current pedestrian safety campaign theme is “See and Be Seen,” and it asks both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of each other. Other tips for safety include the following:
  • Remember, under Oregon law there is a crosswalk at every intersection; stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk; a stopped car may be a clue that a pedestrian is crossing.
  • When stopping for a crosswalk between intersections on a multi-lane road, you should stop about 30 feet before the crosswalk so you don’t block visibility to a driver in a second lane.
  • When stopping at an intersection, do not block the crosswalk.
  • Pedestrians move at different speeds. Be alert for children who may suddenly dart into the street. Be patient with older adults who take extra time to cross the street.
  • Use the route, path, sidewalk, tunnel or crosswalk designated for pedestrians; avoid interactions with vehicles – no matter who is responsible, pedestrians generally lose out in confrontations with vehicles.
  • Before crossing a street, look “left-right-left” for traffic in all directions. Keep looking as you cross the street. With a growing number of electric vehicles on our roads, we can no longer rely on hearing an oncoming vehicle – always be alert!
  • If there are no sidewalks or designated pedestrian routes, walk close to the edge of the road and out of the way of traffic. Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
  • At intersections, wait for a walk signal to tell you it’s your turn to cross the street. Look before you go to make sure drivers see you and have stopped.
  • Be visible. Wear bright or reflective material, even in daylight, so you can’t be overlooked.

See a breakdown of pedestrian fatalities by Oregon county for 2010 and2011.

Get more information or download a free booklet highlighting laws for drivers and pedestrians.

For more information: Julie Yip, Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Program Manager, (503) 986-4196
or Shelley M. Snow, Public Affairs, (503) 881-5362


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