When I first moved to Oregon I had to transfer my drivers license to the new State. In doing so I read the Motor Vehicle Drivers Manual which is pretty much the same as any other State across the nation with a few differences. The one difference which totally blew me away was the fact that if a pedestrian stopped out into the road anywhere a driver must stop and let him/her cross. This seemed to make sense at first although in most the State’s the pedestrian would be considered breaking the law by J-walking. In other words pedestrians are supposed to cross roads where designated at crosswalks.
I heard it from the horses mouth one day as I watched someone step out into the road and say to his friend, “See, we can cross anywhere here. The cars have to stop it’s the law.” Meanwhile cars are breaking hard and swerving to avoid hitting the young man and the cars in front of them. This law creates a false illusion in many minds that it is “Safe” to cross the road anywhere. Since living here for more than 3 years I have seen countless people, sometimes at the rate of a few each day, getting hit by cars. Since I read this law back in 2012 I believe it has changed to the point where it only describes driver’s responsibilities when approaching a crosswalk but people are still walking out into traffic and getting hit by cars.
This is what I learned as a child about crossing the street.
-If you are going to cross where there is no crosswalk (which you shouldn’t do) make sure to look both ways at least 3 times before stepping out into the road. Don’t cross half the road and stand in the middle waiting for the other lane to clear.
-At a crosswalk make sure you lock eyes with the driver so you know that he/she knows you are crossing. Driver’s are naturally distracted at times by many things and you really don’t know what they are paying attention to unless both you and the driver acknowledge each other. Never assume that the driver simply see’s you.
-If you are walking at night try to wear bright clothing. The headlights on a car illuminate bright colors like yellow.
-If you walk out into the road where there is no crosswalk and you get hit by a car, it is your fault, not the driver.
-Don’t be distracted. Put the cellphone away, take the headphones off and really pay attention to what you are doing when crossing the road. Your life depends on it.
As a driver here in Oregon I always assume that most pedestrians are stupid and do not understand these things I just laid out. The Portland area of Oregon has one of the worst traffic problems in the country, yet we also have an incredible amount of pedestrians and cyclists. In a perfect world all three would have separate routes of travel where they do not cross each other, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. (Jetsons). So until such time while the driver assumes the responsibility of watching for pedestrians, the pedestrian also needs to assume the responsibility of avoiding getting hit by a car.