Many people living in Oregon choose to live here because they hope to enjoy the many available outdoor opportunities. Outdoor recreation is huge in Albany, Corvallis, Portland, or any city, large or small, in this great state. In fact, Portland was one of the first cities ever to create a Pedestrian Master Plan, which according to the city, has a “pedestrian first” strategy for transportation.
As people continue to crave walkable cities, questions of pedestrian safety and pedestrian/motor vehicle laws are important. Most people grow up hearing that pedestrians always have the right of way. But is that true in Oregon? This blog post will discuss that question and other auto accident issues involving pedestrians.
The Rising Importance of Pedestrian Laws and Pedestrian Safety
Unfortunately, the dangers for pedestrians are real. U.S. News and the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that vehicles struck and killed more than 7,500 pedestrians in 2022, representing a 77 percent increase since 2010. That is 20 people every day.
Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in Oregon?
Pedestrians have the right of way most of the time, but taking a closer look at crosswalk laws in Oregon will shed some light on this. Generally, though, pedestrians will have the right of way at crosswalks and intersections. Drivers are required to stop their cars fully, yielding to pedestrians who are presently in the crosswalk, or clearly approaching in a manner that suggests that they’re about to cross.
Let’s look a little more at Oregon’s crosswalk laws.
Oregon Crosswalk Laws
According to Oregon crosswalk laws, a driver must stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, even if it is not marked. Legally, the state of Oregon considers every intersection a crosswalk, even without signs or markings. Crosswalks may also exist at points between two different intersections in some cases.
The driver who has found themselves stopped at a crosswalk for any reason must remain unmoving until the pedestrians have cleared the driver’s lane of travel and the lane next to it. Similarly, when turning, a driver must allow the pedestrians to clear the lane into which the car is turning, plus an additional six feet.
However, pedestrians have a responsibility here too. A pedestrian may not leave the curb or otherwise designated place of safety and put themselves in immediate danger of an oncoming vehicle. They are required to yield the right of way to vehicles when they are on the road.
Jaywalking, or crossing the street at any point besides something that is marked or legally indicated as a crosswalk or intersection, is dangerous, both for pedestrians and drivers. In cases of jaywalking, pedestrians do not have the right of way. It is their responsibility to yield to vehicles in this case.
Portland City Code 16.70.210 indicates that pedestrians must use crosswalks. It goes on to state that pedestrians cannot cross the street other than within a crosswalk if they’re within 150 feet of one. In other words, jaywalking in Portland is illegal.
If you were involved as the driver in an accident where a pedestrian was hit, and that pedestrian was jaywalking, you may not be liable to cover the damages in some cases. However, investigation and discovery will still need to be done to properly reconstruct the accident and decide liability.
Pedestrians must obey traffic signals. Additionally, a pedestrian can be cited for a traffic violation for crossing a roadway at a location that is not a crosswalk or intersection when the pedestrian fails to yield to a vehicle.
Oregon states that it’s legal to make a right turn at a red light or red arrow, unless a sign within the intersection specifically indicates that the driver cannot. However, to properly comply with this traffic law, the driver has to be completely stopped before they turn. If a pedestrian is crossing or turning, a driver is still required to stop and yield to them, even if they are able to turn in this intersection.
Keeping Pedestrians Safe
Drivers do have a responsibility to keep pedestrians safe on the road. To do this, they should avoid distraction and slow down when driving near pedestrians. Similarly, pedestrians should obey traffic laws, avoid distraction when walking on roadways, and cross the street at intersections.
Legal Rights of Pedestrians
The traffic laws we have discussed do not abrogate the requirements of all drivers to exercise reasonable care in how they drive their cars. If a driver behaves negligently, strikes a pedestrian, and causes injury or death, the driver can be held liable for the negligence and the pedestrian is entitled to recover damages.
In some circumstances, a pedestrian can recover even when they violate a traffic law. In these types of cases, a careful evaluation of the conduct of the driver and pedestrian is required to determine liability.
Your Rights As A Pedestrian Or A Driver in Oregon
Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable when struck by motor vehicles because they do not have any protection. If you have suffered injuries after being hit by a car or truck as a pedestrian, you will likely have questions about your rights and how to proceed. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to help. We will happily answer all your questions in a free consultation. Please contact us today.