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Speeding to Blame for Portland’s ‘Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths’

A button downtown to help pedestrians get going

Speeding drivers frequently cause serious pedestrian accidents in Portland, according to a recent in-depth article published by Willamette Week. But that’s only part of the problem. There are many other reasons why drivers cause pedestrian accidents in Oregon’s largest city.

Portland pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian accidents have become a serious problem nationwide in the past decade. Between 2010 and 2019, pedestrian fatalities have increased by 46% across the country during this 10-year period, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which also noted that pedestrian fatalities were higher in the first half of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019, even though there were fewer drivers on the road last year.

Pedestrian fatalities in Portland and Oregon as a whole have increasingly become a serious problem in recent years as well. In 2019, a record number of pedestrians (81) were killed in accidents statewide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

As for Portland, the problem has been just as bad. In 2019, a near-record number of pedestrian fatalities (21) occurred in Multnomah County, where Portland is located, according to the NHTSA. And while pedestrian accidents happen in many places in Portland, certain intersections are more dangerous than others, according to Willamette Week. The most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in Portland include Southeast 122nd Avenue and Stark Street, and several intersections east of 82nd Avenue in East Portland.

‘Speed is the root of all evil’

Pedestrian accidents happen for many different reasons. But the most common cause cited by officials in Portland was speeding drivers.

“Speed is the root of all evil and PBOT (Portland Bureau of Transportation) knows that,” Scott Kocher, an Oregon Walks board member, said in an interview with Willamette Week. “But they’ve taken an incremental approach—you could even say glacial.”

Other causes of pedestrian accidents in Portland cited by city officials, pedestrian safety advocates, and residents include:

  • Distracted drivers, including drivers who text while driving, even though it’s against the law in Oregon
  • Aggressive drivers who tailgate or change lanes without looking, often resulting in pedestrian accidents in crosswalks or accidents involving people walking alongside the road
  • Drunk drivers who don’t stop for people in crosswalks or hit pedestrians along a road
  • Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel and hit pedestrians alongside a road or in a crosswalk

These are just some of the reasons why pedestrian accidents happen in Portland and other Oregon communities. Whatever the circumstances of your pedestrian accident, make sure you talk to an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about the legal options available to you.

Making our streets safer

Traffic and safety officials interviewed by Willamette Week had several suggestions for making Portland’s streets safer and reducing the number of pedestrian accidents, such as:

  • Lowering the speed limit on certain streets
  • Installing more streetlights on certain streets
  • Building more visible crosswalks
  • Installing barriers that prevent drivers from turning left at certain intersections
  •  Installing traffic calming devices

Legal help is available

You might think you don’t need an attorney if you were hit by a car and the driver was clearly to blame. Unfortunately, many clear-cut cases turn out to be very complicated. The driver who hit you might deny doing anything wrong or claim the collision was somehow your fault. The at-fault driver’s insurance company might purposefully delay, downplay, or flat-out deny your claim. That’s because the injuries associated with pedestrian accident claims are often severe and pose a threat to the insurance company’s bottom line.

We know what’s at stake at Zbinden & Curtis in Portland. That’s because we have years of experience fighting for the rights of injured pedestrians in Multnomah County and throughout Oregon. When you have our dedicated legal team on your side, you can focus on healing while we aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for every dollar you’re entitled to under the law.

Learn more about how we can help you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation today. We have two offices conveniently located in Portland and Woodburn, Oregon, and proudly serve injury victims and their families throughout Oregon and Washington State.

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