Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cross At Your Peril: Oregon's Deadly Roads

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 6:35 PM

A newly released report reveals that Jefferson County is the deadliest county in Oregon to cross a street.

Over the past decade five pedestrians have been killed on Jefferson County roads. With a population of just under 20,000 that’s a fatality rate higher than any other county in Oregon, according a study by the non-profit transportation advocacy group Transportation for America

The group released its findings as part of a national campaign to secure more federal dollars for safety improvements on highways, particularly those stretches that run through cities and towns where high-speed traffic patterns can be deadly for pedestrians.

Nationally, more than 47,000 pedestrians were killed in the past decade on America’s streets and highways. The majority of those, roughly 67 percent died on roads that are eligible for federal funding, including safety improvements, such as sidewalks, signals and bike lanes. In Oregon, more than 500 pedestrians were killed over the past decade. The danger was underscored on Monday when two pedestrian-involved accidents were reported, including a fatality near Garibaldi. A second accident near Sandy left a 19-year-old woman in critical condition after she was struck while walking a dog on Highway 211.

All told pedestrians account for about 12 percent of all deaths on the nation’s roads and highways. Most of those fatalities involve our most vulnerable populations, according to Transportation for America. Americans of retirement age are twice as likely to be killed  while walking or biking on our roads. The youngest pedestrians are also at risk. Almost 50 pedestrians under the age of 15 were killed in the last decade on our state’s roads, making it one of the leading accident related deaths for children in Oregon.

There is a bit of positive news in the report. Bend is ranked among the safest places for pedestrians, despite a couple of high-profile pedestrian fatalities in the last several years. One of those deaths occurred on the parkway when a biker was killed while walking his bike across the parkway with his daughter while a car yielded, allowing the pair to cross. The Oregon Department of Transportation has since installed a flashing light at the intersection to alert drivers of the pedestrian crossing.

Transportation for America issued its report this week as Congress is weighing the possibility of cutting funding for two of the main programs that fund pedestrian-related safety upgrades to highways, according to information from the group’s website.

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