Now that Daylight Savings Time has ended, and as we enter the late fall and winter months, we will wake to dark mornings and most likely go home in the dark. Rainy and cloudy days will further complicate our travel. Sadly, hundreds of people in Portland have been killed over the last few years in fatal crashes. I don't want you to be the next person gravely injured or worse, or be the survivor who has to live with the guilt. So from a traffic officer's perspective, here's some things you can do to try and stay safe.
First, if you're in a vehicle, slow down. Even if the posted speed limit says one thing, if it's a dark, rainy day decrease your speed. Speed is a factor in many fatal crashes.
Drive with your lights on, even if it's in the daytime. Lights allow other cars and vulnerable road users to see you.
When making a right turn, look for people who may be entering the crosswalk and bikes and scooters who may be coming up on the right side of your vehicle. Now, look again, and again. When I'm riding my bike, I'm constantly scanning my environment. Not only am I aware of marked crosswalks where vehicles are required to stop, I'm recognizing that many people cross at the nearest corner, which still requires me to stop. And, yes, some pedestrians take shortcuts and I still need to stop.
If you are not in a vehicle, we call you a vulnerable road user because you do not have steel and metal protecting you. That's why it's up to you to be a defensive road user. Meet driver's eyes before crossing. Double check that people see you. You may be in the right in a marked crosswalk or riding on a bike lane, but in the end, right doesn't keep you alive. Think about your visibility. Wearing dark clothing and having no reflectors or lights decreases the chance that a vehicle can see you. If you walk, think about adding reflective tape to your coat or shoes. And if you're on a bike, have lights and reflectors as required.
When police respond to a serious injury or fatal crash, it's our job to determine ultimately who was at fault. But for the purposes of this video, it's not about blame, but about reminding everyone that it's your responsibility to not only obey Oregon law, but also to take measures to use the road safely.
Share the road and travel with care.