Back-to-school reminder: Watch out for each other

ODOT's message: 'School is in - keep an eye out'

SALEM, Ore. - With several recent bicycle-car crashes – and back-to-school just around the corner – ODOT and its partners are encouraging vigilance in sharing the road and watching out for one another.

A transit campaign appearing soon on buses around the state says, "School is in. Keep an eye out." Print and television public service announcements urge simple steps as a way of ensuring safety, such as making eye contact, avoiding distractions and wearing reflective gear.

"It's really a matter of each person taking responsibility for his or her safety," said Troy Costales, ODOT's Transportation Safety Division administrator. "You may think a driver sees you – or as a driver, you may think you're aware of all that is going on – but not seeing each other is often mentioned as one of the reasons for these crashes."

Safety advocates remind all users of the transportation system that even a small mistake can have big consequences, and nothing is more important than getting to your destination safe and sound.

A new online publication called "The Driver's Field Guide to Sharing Oregon's Roads" is available this week, and it will complement a publication that appeared earlier this summer, "The Bicyclist's Survival Guide." Both are available on Transportation Safety's website under "Bicyclist Safety." Other educational materials are available to improve pedestrian safety.

Here are some reminders that can help reduce crashes, injuries and even death:

For drivers

  • With school back in session, there are more people walking and biking. Expect pedestrians, especially around bus and train stops, school zones and shopping centers.
  • Stop for people in crosswalks.
  • Bicyclists have the right to ride in the roadway; be on the lookout!
  • When passing a bicyclist, leave enough room to avoid contact if the rider falls into your lane. Return to your lane only when you're completely clear of the rider.
  • Before turning right, use your mirror or take a quick look over your shoulder to check your right rear zone: if you see approaching bicyclists, you must yield.
  • When you have a bike box on the road in front of you, you can't turn right on red.
  • When driving through neighborhoods or school zones, be alert for younger bicyclists who may not be familiar with the rules of the road and/or may be less predictable.
  • At night, watch for bicycle lights and reflectors.

For pedestrians

  • Don't assume the coast is clear just because you have a walk sign. Look ‘left-right-left' – and keep looking – as you cross the street.
  • Ditch the distractions: don't talk on the phone or wear headphones – you may need your ears to survive.
  • Make sure you are seen. Wear bright outer clothing. Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Every intersection is considered a pedestrian crosswalk, whether it's marked or not – but that doesn't mean cars will yield!And if you are not crossing at an intersection, you are required to yield to vehicles.

For bicyclists

  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as traffic; it will help you be seen (and it's the law).
  • Use bike lanes when available. When on the street, you are required to follow the rules of the road, just like a vehicle.
  • Gear up: always wear a helmet, have reflectors and lights on your bike, wear bright clothing during the day and reflective gear at night.
  • Don't assume drivers see you; blind spots are big. When close to an intersection, don't pass on the right, just in case a driver is turning right but hasn't signaled.
  • Be predictable: Signal all your actions.
  • Listen and be alert; don't wear headphones.

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