WPC Wishes You a Call-Free New Year

A suggested New Year’s resolution from the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition:

If you’re still racking your brain for New Year’s resolutions that will make you the toast of every neighborhood, allow me to suggest one of my favorites: “I resolve to share the road.”

It’s a simple resolution, really, but it has far-reaching consequences for everyone. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States for all age groups from 1 through 34 years, and almost half of these fatalities are alcohol-related,” according to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control. “New Year’s Day has the greatest relative increase in traffic fatalities compared with all other holidays.”

Your road-sharing resolution can begin New Year’s Eve, when you decide how to bring in 2010. If you know you’ll be drinking, pocket those car keys and take transit or a cab. Think there’s no such thing as a free ride? TriMet offers free service New Year’s Eve after 8pm, and Yellow, Blue, and Green MAX lines run until 3am. RideOn Portland (503.235.RIDE) is also a useful service from a great nonprofit for those who find themselves drunk and with car. They’ll drive your car and you for a bargain $10 from SE Portland or a number of sponsoring bars.

Then start 2010 off right by complying with the new cell phone. As you may have heard, on January 1st, 2010, Oregon’s new distracted driver law takes effect, which prohibits driving while dialing, texting, or talking on a cell phone, with fines starting at $90. While a person who is 18 years or older can use a hands-free device, studies have shown that hands-free provides the same mental distraction as holding a cell phone. Save the call for the destination.

Here are a few other resolution ideas from WPC:

If you drive:

  • “Stop and Stay Stopped” for pedestrians in crosswalks until they have cleared the driver’s lane and the adjacent lane
  • Remember every intersection is a crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked
  • If a car is stopped at a crosswalk, you must stop, too
  • Keep intersections and sidewalks clear so that people can walk safely by
  • Be alert for people walking during low-light conditions, especially in areas where they are likely to cross the road, or you might not see them until it is too late to stop

If you walk:

  • Allow cars time and opportunity to stop before crossing the road
  • Make eye contact with other road users, and continue to look as you’re crossing the road
  • Don’t assume that because one car stopped, the car in the next lane over sees you
  • Remember to cross only at legal crosswalks and with the light

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, prosperous and SAFE New Year!

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