Deadly traffic crash response

Variable message sign protected by orange and white cones placed on the side of a four lane street with the message "Traffic Death 11/18/19" displayed.
Portland Bureau of Transportation's deadly crash response protocol and street changes.

How we respond to deadly traffic crashes

Following deadly traffic crashes, Portland Bureau of Transportation follows a protocol of actions to raise awareness and respond to the tragedy of people killed on our streets.

  • We conduct an emergency engineering evaluation of the crash site to determine if there are quick, low-cost infrastructure changes we can implement to address safety concerns.
  • When changes are identified, we quickly move those into design and implementation.
  • We deploy electronic variable message signs at the crash location to raise awareness and encourage safe driving behavior where traffic violence occurs. The signs flash two messages, “Traffic Death [date]” and “Travel with Care.”

These steps are outlined in 2019 memo from then PBOT Director Chris Warner on accelerating citywide safety fixes in response to traffic fatalities.

These interventions provide a quick and inexpensive response and safety improvement in a location where someone was killed. They do not provide a comprehensive safety solution at the location or for the city as a whole. Vision Zero relies on many other tools to improve safety on Portland's streets. The most consequential infrastructure changes happen through large scale street transformations that require much larger budgets and much longer planning and engagement processes. These projects are carried out by PBOT's planning and capital delivery teams. 

Infrastructure changes

Below is a list of recent 2023 infrastructure changes that we have implemented as part of the fatal crash response protocol.

12/24/2023 - Deadly crash at N Columbia Boulevard and N Oregonian Avenue

PBOT crews added three curve warning signs to alert drivers traveling eastbound that the street curves. PBOT crews also added crossing signs to alert drivers that pedestrians may be crossing N Columbia Boulevard at N Oregonian Avenue. PBOT staff submitted a request to lower the speed limit on this section of N Columbia Boulevard. Work was completed in February 2024

10/18/2023 - Deadly crash at SE Holgate Street and 135 Avenue

PBOT crews added three curve warning signs to alert drivers traveling eastbound that the street curves.  Work was completed in December 2023.

9/19/2023 - Deadly crash on N Portland Road at the Smith and Bybee Lakes crossing

PBOT crews added a sign warning approaching cyclists that cross traffic does not stop. Work was completed in January 2024

7/28/2023 - Deadly crash at NE Weidler and Halsey streets

PBOT crews added object markers and chevrons on the raised median to alert drivers traveling westbound that the street curves. Work was completed in August 2023.

7/21/2023 - Deadly crash at SW Barbur Boulevard and 22nd Avenue

PBOT crews put up "right turn only" signs and pavement markings on SW 22nd Avenue approaching Barbur Boulevard. That intersection doesn't have a traffic signal, the streets meet at an angle, and SW Barbur Boulevard is wide and fast in this section. Only allowing right turns prevents riskier left and through movements, and because there are few destinations on SW 22nd Avenue and signalized intersections near by, the change should have minimal impact on people driving in the area. PBOT crews also installed wayfinding signs at SW Spring Garden Street and 19th Avenue to let people know how they should access SW Barbur Boulevard. Work was completed in August 2023. 

7/20/2023 - Deadly crash at SE Powell Boulevard and 63rd Avenue

PBOT crews added a a "stop sign ahead" sign on SE 63rd Avenue approaching Powell Boulevard. Work was completed in August 2023.

7/15/2023 - Deadly crash at SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard and Taylor Street

PBOT crews installed a diverter at the intersection of SE Taylor Street to prevent left turns to and from SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard. Left turns have multiple conflict points, with drivers needing to negotiate multiple lanes of oncoming traffic and cross traffic, as well as two legs of pedestrian movements. At this intersection, left turns made up a disproportionate number of crashes (25% of crashes involved a left turn, but only 1.7% of the vehicles entering the intersection were turning left). People walking and riding bikes can still cross SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard at this location.

7/14/2023 - Deadly crash at SW Barbur Boulevard and Taylors Ferry Road

PBOT crews refreshed the paint on the stop bar on SW Taylors Ferry Road approaching SW Barbur Boulevard. Work was completed in January 2024.

6/22/2023 - Deadly crash at SE Stark Street and 135th Avenue

PBOT crews removed on street parking on the south east side of SE Stark Street to improve visibility. Work was completed in July 2023.

5/29/2023 - Deadly crash at NE Columbia and Cully boulevards

PBOT crews installed intersection warning signs for people driving on NE Cully Boulevard to bring attention to the fact that an intersection was coming up and that cross traffic on NE Columbia Boulevard does not stop. Work was completed in August 2023.

5/9/2023 - Deadly crash at NE Broadway Boulevard and 15th Avenue

PBOT crews installed accessible pedestrian signal technology and a five second pedestrian head start for pedestrians crossing NE Broadway Boulevard to reduce the risk of turn crashes. Work was completed in September 2023.

1/1/2023 - Deadly crash at 2600 block of SE 125th Avenue

PBOT crews added 20 MPH speed limit signs to SE 125th Avenue. Work was completed in August 2023

Curve warning sign mounted on the median island on NE Halsey Street westbound, with a 20 mph speed limit sign and additional curve warning signs in the background

Curve warning sign and 20 mph speed limit sign at NE Weidler and Halsey streets, near 113th Avenue.

Yellow bumps with plastic delineators that are lined up with the yellow center lines on SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard in the middle of the intersection with SE Taylor Street

Left turn restriction at SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard and Taylor Street

Three black and yellow signs placed on the edge of the roadway where it curves
Curve warning signs at SE Holgate Street and 135th Avenue shown in the eastbound direction