I Brake for People

This morning we welcome a new contributor, Joseph Edge!

The Oregon Department of Transportation and City of Portland Office of Transportation are collaborating to launch a media campaign to make crossing the street safer for people. While Oregon law requires that motorists stop at intersections and crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross safely, many people remain unaware of this.

The campaign, called “I BRAKE FOR PEOPLE,” is designed to educate drivers on how to interact with pedestrians safely. Join campaign sponsors and supporters as volunteers create a living billboard to urge motorists to follow the law and stop for pedestrians.

What: Press Event for the “I BRAKE FOR PEOPLE” Campaign
When: 10:00 a.m. on Monday, October 22
Where: Vestal Elementary School Auditorium, 161 NE 82nd Avenue

Susan Keil, Director, Portland Office of Transportation
Jason Tell, Region 1 Manager, Oregon Department of Transportation TriMet
Portland Public Schools
City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee
City of Portland Pedestrian and Bicycle Technical Advisory Committee
City of Portland Safer Routes to School Program
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
82nd Avenue of Roses High Crash Corridor Safety Action Plan Advisory Committees
82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association
Elders In Action
Vestal Elementary School students and staff
Other community partners for pedestrian safety

Why: Pedestrian safety has long been a concern of the City and ODOT. In downtown Portland, 72% of pedestrian collisions are a result of driver error. Citywide, 49% of pedestrian injuries happen in a crosswalk. One out of three traffic fatalities is a pedestrian or a bicyclist (Portland 1985 – 2000), and pedestrian injuries are the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children.

The “I BRAKE FOR PEOPLE” campaign will be visible out on the street where motorists interact with pedestrians. Ads on TriMet buses, benches, and shelters will carry the message. Radio announcements during drive time will complement the campaign and remind motorists to stop for pedestrians.

Press Event: 10:00 a.m. on Monday, October 22 – Sponsors and supporters will be available for interviews

22 responses to “I Brake for People”

  1. “While Oregon law requires that motorists stop at intersections and crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross safely, many people remain unaware of this.”

    Are people really unaware of this, or just uncaring of it, “too busy,” etc.? Pedestrians having the right of way seems too basic a fact for people to be unaware of it.

  2. I’m not sure about “unaware” or “uncaring”, but on more than one occasion when I’ve legally stopped to allow pedestrians to cross at an unmarked intersection, motorists behind me have angrily honked, or worse, passed on the right while honking and nearly striking pedestrians who have already begun to cross.

    I prefer to be charitable and characterize these people as being unaware of the law, rather than maliciously ignoring the law and endangering others.

    That being said, there are a few trouble spots I’m aware of where people who have no intention of crossing the street hang out right by a marked crosswalk, causing drivers to stop and then those drivers become justifiably frustrated with the behavior of the pedestrians.

    Perhaps the new hand-signal law, if properly publicised and adopted, will lead to fewer conflicts.

    – Bob R.

  3. “Perhaps the new hand-signal law, if properly publicized and adopted, will lead to fewer conflicts.”

    I don’t believe it passed. The rumors I heard said that the legislature was worried that people would stand around on busy streets raising their hand and causing all the traffic to stop just for the fun of it… Of course, they could do the same thing just by stepping off the curb, and nobody seems to be doing that, so I’m not sure why they were worried that stopping traffic would suddenly become a new hobby, but that is what I heard…

  4. Can I pose a question to y’all? It’s not about legality, but more of common road courtesy.

    Say there is a red light at a four-way intersection. Doesn’t matter if the roads are one-way or two way, except that a right turn on red would be legal at the intersection.

    If there are, say, two pedestrians who are “leading off” at the intersection (stepped off the curb, about to cross against the red light, or perhaps just stepped off the curb in anticipation of crossing when the light turns green), and they have led off almost beyond the parked-car zone…

    …and then a car makes a legal right turn, after stopped, on the red.

    Who has the right of way?

    The way I see it, there are three options:

    1) Should the car stop and wave the pedestrians on, even though doing so would encourage them to cross against the red light?

    2) Should the car just not make the right turn until the light turns green and the pedestrians have gone?

    3) Or, can the car make the right turn on red slowly, causing the pedestrians to have to back off slightly from their leading-off positions?

    Just curious what other people think about this situation? Place yourself in the driver’s seat of the car, as well as in the pedestrian’s position, before answering.

  5. Garlynn, I would vote for option 3. I’ve always felt that – since it is legal to turn right against a red light but not for pedestrians to cross against a red – the red light provides an opportunity for right-turning drivers to make their turn legally without having to wait for pedestrians to cross, especially in this scenario where to do so the crossing pedestrians would be breaking the law. Likewise, pedestrians should not be running out into a crosswalk as a light turns yellow because yellow lights should provide an opportunity for drivers who are turning (those who have been waiting during their green light for crossing pedestrians) to turn and clear the intersection and crosswalk before the light changes to red and they become “stuck” through another cycle. My philosophy as both a driver and a pedestrian is about sharing the road and not unnecessarily inhibiting the flow of either vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

    As an aside, personally, I would never wave a pedestrian out into an intersection against their crosswalk signal just in case there is a car barreling down the road that I didn’t see coming.

  6. Pedestrians have the right of way at all times, even if they are j-walking.

    Motorists are rude for some reason. Things that people would never do in person they have no problem doing in their vehicles, such as driving like a maniac, cutting you off, not stopping for pedestrians, crowding out bikes, etc etc. I see it every day and every day I am amazed at how stupid people really are.


    Given the way people act in their vehicles you would think that 50,000 people a day would be killed or injured in this country.

    The evil car is not only a means of transport in America, but its also a definition of peoples alter ego’s and hidden personalities.

    We owe all that do the great culture of advertising and status that we all live in.

  7. Motorists are rude for some reason.
    Many people just plain don’t know how to drive. You see people all the time talking on their cell phone in one hand and holding their coffee in another with no hands on the wheel and going down the road at 50.

    Needing to cross Powell Blvd., Foster Rd. or 39th Ave. as a pedestrian shouldn’t be limited to those with a death wish. People need to re-learn how to drive. Correctly this time around.

    Just today in the O (page E2) is a story about someone in Eugene that ran into a train while using text messaging on his phone.

    Getting a drivers’ license anymore, as I hear, is more about being able to pay for DMV issuing fees, having current tags, and mandatory insurance than it is about being a safe driver. DMV is probably too backed up with complaints about registering illegal aliens to vote and Real(ly unnecessary) ID Act issues to be able to do anything in this regard.

    I think it’s great that various governments and civic groups have signed on, and Al I must say that all of you that drive at TriMet are great in this regard, but where is the actual business support? No pizza delivery, package delivery, taxi companies, service contractors (which seem to be some of the worst drivers, BTW), real estate appraisal, etc. support this initnative? That’s what it’s going to take in order for something like this to really work.

  8. Every person that I know who drives believes that it is only legal for pedestrians to cross:

    A) at a marked crosswalk
    B) when the light is green

    otherwise they are “extra points” – ie, its ok if you hit them because they are in the wrong. Literally everyone I know, including my entire family and friends, share this opinion. I have tried to tell them that they are wrong, but am always dismissed out of hand – which is quite irritating! Then I get to hear about the latest ‘stupid pedestrian who tried crossing the street’ story.

    Judging by my own experience (75% of those people have college degrees) I would assume the vast majority of drivers in this state have no idea as to the actual law. Especially when people who have been driving for 40 years don’t expect the laws to change…

  9. Al, you’re a Tri-Met bus driver, right? Regardless, you’re entirely correct.

    And Chris Smith — also correct.

    But I bring up the question anyways, because this situation happens *all the time*. Pedestrians have the right of way, even when they’re doing something illegal — yet, in the minds of most drivers (excluding professional and courteous drivers like Al), if a pedestrian is leading off in an attempt to jaywalk, the driver has a license to make a right turn on red in front of them, because the driver’s maneuver is legal (except for that bit about yielding to peds), while the pedestrian’s is not.

    I would hope that any statewide education campaign might actually focus on real-world scenarios like this.

    Because, not to single you out, Chris, but a simple response like “law that allows right-on-red requires yielding to pedestrians before you can turn” often doesn’t quite cover all of the gray areas and questions that a driver might have (such as “but what if the pedestrian is jaywalking/crossing against the light?”).

    A couple of right/wrong videos for different scenarios might help to illustrate the point nicely?

  10. Judging by my own experience (75% of those people have college degrees) I would assume the vast majority of drivers in this state have no idea as to the actual law.

    I believe you are correct, and this is the very reason I would support requiring drivers to take the DMV drivers license exam to renew their license every other year. I know plenty of intelligent people who just don’t keep up on new laws. If the DMV exam were mandatory for all drivers at a greater frequency – and exam questions were updated frequently to require knowledge of the new laws – then more people would be forced to keep up and couldn’t plead ignorance – or they would lose their licenses until they could pass the test. This might be harsh, but we’re talking about the safety of the general public vs. inconveniencing an individual.

  11. Pedestrians have the right of way, even when they’re doing something illegal

    Please state the ORS that specifies that this is true.

    ORS 811.005 through 811.060 covers duties to pedestrians and bicyclists, and NOWHERE in the official state law does it state that a motorist is commiting a crime under the state laws when a pedestrian is also breaking the law.

    ORS 811.028 clearly states that the pedestrian must be proceeding in accordance with a traffic control device (a walk/don’t walk signal) or within a crosswalk (Oregon state law defines a crosswalk as either marked or unmarked). If the pedestrian is not proceeding in accordance with the crossing signal or is not in a legally defined crosswalk, the motorist who fails to yield to the pedestrian is NOT in violation of ORS 811.028 and the pedestrian IS in violation of ORS 814.020.

    Further, if a marked crosswalk exists in an intersection, than there is no such thing as an unmarked crosswalk in the same area. This is defined in ORS 801.220.

  12. I don’t think your interpreting the law right on this one ERIK.

    Below is 811.029…section (b) gives all the instances which a driver needs to stop for a pedestrian.

    A-B-C-D-E pretty much covers every single possible place that a pedestrian would be located on a street. I read that, and its my understanding, that you are to stop for all pedestrians, maybe if they are crossing AGAINST a do not walk light then the driver of the car can plead innocent, but that’s the only scenario.

    811.028 Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian; penalty. (1) The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of failure to stop and remain stopped for a pe destrian if the driver does not stop and re main stopped for a pedestrian when the pedestrian is:
    (a) Proceeding in accordance with a traf fic control device as provided under ORS 814.010 or crossing the roadway in a cross walk, as defined in ORS 801.220; and
    (b) In any of the following locations:
    (A) In the lane in which the driver’s ve hicle is traveling;
    (B) In a lane adjacent to the lane in which the driver’s vehicle is traveling;
    (C) In the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning;
    (D) In a lane adjacent to the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning, if the driver is making a turn at an intersection that does not have a traffic control device under which a pedestrian may proceed as provided under ORS 814.010; or
    (E) Less than six feet from the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning, if the driver is making a turn at an intersection that has a traffic control device under which a pedestrian may proceed as provided under ORS 814.010.

  13. A previous poster suggested that a motorist is required to stop for a jaywalker.

    Oregon law does not define who has right-of-way, only who must yield. Since Oregon law doesn’t define that a motorist must yield to a jaywalker, a motorist who hits a jaywalker is not in violation of any law, unless it could be found that the motorist acted recklessly (i.e. sought out and intentionally ran over the jaywalker).

    If a pedestrian walks out in front of my car outside of a crosswalk and without a traffic control device, that pedestrian is struck by my car and later dies, I did not commit any crime. 811.028 is very clear that I only commit the crime of failure to stop or remain stopped for a pedestrian (a.k.a. failure to yield right of way to a pedestrian) if the pedestrian is in a crosswalk (marked or unmarked, but an umarked crosswalk can only exist at an intersection) or has a traffic control device (which only exists at a marked crosswalk whether at an intersection or a mid-block, marked and signalled intersection) – in which case if I mowed down a pedestrian, I’d also be liable for failure to obey a traffic control device (a red traffic signal).

  14. Erik-
    I really don’t think your reading the codes correctly. 811.28 is divided into 2 sections

    a + b

    Section b is not contingent on section a.

    Section b stands alone, as does section a. (not to be confused with “A” and “B”, etc.

    You kill a pedestrian and I guarantee you that your gonna need a lawyer, crosswalk or not, traffic signal or not.

  15. Section (a) is entirely contingent on section (b) because the last word of section (a) is the word “and” – as opposed to the word “or”.

    You will note that the word “or” is used at the end of section (D); this indicates that any one of the five conditions (A) through (E) must be met, but not necessarily more than one.

    In fact, ORS 811.028 (not 811.029; there is no such law) does indeed have four sections (not two) numbered (1) through (4).

    (1) covers the conditions for which the pedestrian must exist in order for a vehicle to stop/remain stopped for it.

    (2) defines a bike lane or an area used for parking as a “lane” for the intent of this law,

    (3) specifies when a driver is NOT required to stop/remain stopped for a pedestrian (namely if there is a “safety island” a motorist does not have to stop if “the driver is proceeding along the half of the roadway on the far side of the safety island from the pedestrian” or if there is a pedestrian overpass/underpass at/near a crosswalk).

    (4) specifies that violation of this law is a Class B traffic violation.

    Under section (1) are two conditions, (a) and (b). (a) clearly states the word “and” at the end of it, which has an unambiguous meaning that (a) MUST exist with (b).

  16. “Section (a) is entirely contingent on section (b) because the last word of section (a) is the word “and” – as opposed to the word “or”.”

    Well I’m not a lawyer but I do not think your interpretation is correct, although I suppose you could argue your point.

    Are you a lawyer? Are there any lawyers in the group that could interpret that for us?

  17. Also Erik, if it was part of the same section it would have a “A” instead of a “b”.

    That would clearly delineate that the parts in question are contingent on and are a subpart of “a”.

    We need a traffic law attorney to look at this for the proper interpretation.

    In any case, my point still stands as far as I am concerned;

    IF YOU HIT AND KILL A PEDESTRIAN YOUR IN DEEP DOO DOO + will definitely need an attorney.

  18. I can promise you, with a high level of certainty, that people in the US as a whole, are VERY UNAWARE of where, when, or how they are supposed to interact with pedestrians.

  19. And then there is the guy in the pickup yesterday at NE Grand and Oregon, who stopped on the red as I crossed Grand with the Walk signal, but then proceeded to run the red light and flip me off.
    I gave him the same and wished I’d had a granade.
    Our police have enought resources to ticket bicyclists who coast thru stop signs, but are asleep at the wheel when it comes to motor vehicle enforcement.

  20. We need a campaign like this for bicyclists. I don’t have a liscene and don’t ride a bike. i walk most places and often find that bikers rarely follow rules of dealing with pedestrians. I have been hot by people on bikes twice. It is a lot worse than it sounds.

  21. this is not a dead debate, 3 years old as it may be. I am still unclear as to whether or not I should be stopping for these pedestrians who aren’t near any sort of a cross walk. It seems I was mistaken and the law does read that the pedestrian must be in a crosswalk. It seems to make sense since it is a risk of being rear ended when you stop suddenly for a random person who is standing at the edge of the road or hwy waiting to cross. I have been stopping on a dime for them all and getting the bird and the horn from many irate people because I thought it was the absolute law. Now I’m confused but think I’ll start stopping only for the pedestrians in the crosswalks?!

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