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Driving Myth #2: Pedestrian Right of Way

Myth No. 2:  As a pedestrian, I ALWAYS have the right of way over motor vehicles.

As well as leading to unseemly arguments and the occasional use of language best left to very, very bad movie scripts, this myth has also led to far too many serious accidents between pedestrians and vehicles. As Portland personal injury attorneys frequently point out, in those kinds of accidents, there will always be only one winner…and it won’t be the pedestrian.

Portland has more than its fair share of dark, rainy and cloudy days, and pedestrians often find out too late that they’re not as visible to the motorist as vice versa, whether or not they have the right of way. ORS 811.005 is a road statute that applies to pedestrians, and it states in part:

  • Pedestrians must exercise care when entering onto a roadway.
  • A pedestrian cannot walk out in front of an approaching vehicle without giving that vehicle’s driver some notice of the pedestrian’s intention to enter the roadway. People out jogging or walking for exercise frequently don’t want to stop or interrupt their exercise and many injuries have been caused when people trying to get more physically fit instead wind up getting physically flattened by an unsuspecting motorist.

While the statute does not, of course, ban the wearing of dark clothing, the Portland Police Department reminds people who do go out in dark-colored clothes, especially in the winter months, that they can be very difficult to see. Crossing the road in an unexpected place also heightens the dangers for both the pedestrian and the unsuspecting motorist.

Video Provided by the Portland Police Bureau.