Press Release: ODOT reports significant increase in walking fatalities

This just in… ODOT reports fatal collisions involving someone walking are up significantly in 2012. Just an FYI, the number they use is a bit outdated. As of 11/26, there have been 55 people killed while walking (not 52).

Please note: I’m aware that this press statement, which seems to be about an increase in fatalities to people walking, actually devotes a lot of space to telling people how to be more careful when they walk. It doesn’t include any educational information about how we could/should drive more safely. I contacted the Beaverton PD officer who wrote this and we spoke at length about my concerns. He defended the statement and we agreed to disagree about how it was written. I’m considering a story.

Also, for what it’s worth, fatal collisions involving someone driving and someone biking are way down so far this year. In 2011 there were 13 bicycle fatalities statewide. So far this year there have been eight.

The press release is below…

News Release from: Beaverton Police Department

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), 52 pedestrians have been killed in Oregon in motor vehicle crashes this year. The total pedestrian fatalities in Oregon for 2011 were 47 and we have one month remaining in 2012. Our goal is to do our part in keeping this number from rising anymore this year and to educate our community.

ODOT says many factors contribute to these fatal incidents, including distractions, alcohol use and disregarding rules of the road – on the part of both drivers and pedestrians.

The Beaverton Police Departments Traffic Safety Division’s mission is to keep our community safe while on the roads of our city. There has been a lot of focus on distracted driving, DUII, fail to obey traffic control devices and speeding. This is important to keep our streets safe while operating a motor vehicle.

It is just as important for pedestrians and bicyclists to also take steps to make sure they are safe while out and about. Bicyclists when on a public roadway are required to obey all traffic laws as if they were driving a motor vehicle. Pedestrians are also required to obey traffic control devices and enter the roadway in a way that will not cause a hazard to vehicles.

The Beaverton Police Departments Traffic Safety Division has been working hard at educating pedestrians and bicyclists on the laws they must follow to insure their safety while on the roads and sidewalks of our city. Below is a list of specific laws in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) for pedestrians that if they violate they could receive a traffic citation.

ORS 814.020 pedestrian fail to obey traffic control device:
· A pedestrian commits this offense if they fail to obey any traffic control devise specifically applicable to the pedestrian.

ORS 814.040 pedestrian failure to yield to vehicle:
· A pedestrian commits this offense if they suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and moves into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
· Fails to yield the right of way to a vehicle upon a roadway when the pedestrian is crossing the roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection

Please see attached link for a pedestrian’s appropriate response to a traffic control devise.

Pedestrians can also do the following to help keep them safe:
· Wear bright or reflective clothing
· Don’t wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while walking
· Use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible
· Remain alert and don’t assume that cars are going to stop
· Make eye contact with the motorist before crossing

We all need to work together to keep our streets safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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10 years ago

These were the numbers from last year. I’d be interested to see how they break down this year. Unfortunately, they focus mainly on the pedestrian side of things (seems to be theme).

Of the 47 pedestrian killed in 2011:
• 34 were illegally in the road
• 16 had a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
• 20 wore dark clothes (were not visible)
• 10 were crossing in a crosswalk or at an intersection
• 11 were not in a roadway
Of the drivers involved in these fatal crashes:
• 4 were driving too fast
• 5 made driver errors such as an improper turn

So, 34 people illegally in the road and 11 were not in a roadway, meaning only 2 were legally in the road.

Is there any way for the 11 pedestrians not in the roadway to be at fault? Not sure why they didn’t numerate the driver errors in those cases.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
10 years ago

At first blush…this seems a bit odd for Beaverton PD to focus on ODOT data only…perhaps a missed opportunity…I would assume they would have additional local data to add (tickets for “jaywalking”, any tickets for crosswalk violations during “ped stings”, etc.) to a local press release…

Perhaps this was just one officer’s or one jurisdiction’s viewpoint that this is really just the problem of managing pedestrians…

…aka “walking while [wearing] black” vs. distracted driving, lack of enforcement, speeding, providing complete streets, etc.

10 years ago

It’s always struck me how similar the attitude is between these kind of pedestrian safety ideas and the stop-rape-by-dressing-less-sexy camp.