November 1, 2010

The number of pedestrians killed in Oregon has risen dramatically this year. With three people killed last week, the number of deaths in the first 10 months of 2010 matched the number for the whole of 2008. Compared to 2009, when 29 people had been killed by this point in the year, 2010 has seen an 80 percent increase, or 52 pedestrian deaths. In the past ten years, the average has been about 50 deaths per year.

Authorities say the factor common especially to the most recent incidents is visibility. Pedestrians are most at risk when they are walking or crossing in the dark, wearing dark clothing or hidden by plants or curves.

The state launched a new campaign this year to raise pedestrians’ awareness of visibility issues. The “Be Visible” and “Dress to be Seen” posters Oregonians have spotted on public transportation are a part of the effort.

Representatives from the state’s pedestrian safety program attribute last year’s lower death rate to bad weather — the winter of 2009 was of the state’s snowiest in a long time. Both drivers and pedestrians were staying off the roads.

Nationally, November and December are the riskiest months for pedestrians. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, almost 40 percent of pedestrian deaths are reported during these two months. The NTSA advises pedestrians to take a few important precautions to avoid fatal accidents:

  • Cross at crosswalks.
  • Exercise due care (as required by law), especially at unmarked crossings, by making contact with drivers, if possible, and stepping into the street only after a vehicle has come to a full stop.
  • Check and double check for cars, even while crossing.
  • Wear reflective clothing or white or yellow, especially during the darker winter months.

Source: Portland Oregonian “Pedestrian Deaths Up Sharply in Oregon” 11/8/10 (page unavailable online) via Westclip by Westlaw

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