In 2019, there were 731 crashes in Oregon between drivers and people biking, and 980 between drivers and people walking. This number is down 11.5% and 1%, respectively, from 2018, but these crashes show that there is still a need for Oregonians to become Friendly Drivers.
Crashes happen for many reasons, but nearly all are avoidable. In 2019, 77% of crashes in Oregon with pedestrians and bicyclists occurred due to drivers failing to yield the right of way. These avoidable crashes cost insurance companies and taxpayers a lot of money each year. One study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that injuries to bicyclists and pedestrians from these crashes can total $40 billion over their lifetimes. In 2018 in Oregon, crashes with cyclists cost tax payers and insurance companies $9 million, and crashes with pedestrians cost $118 million.
Crashes can impact all in a community, not just the injured parties. Insurance companies base their rates off of crash data and claims filed in an area. So the more crashes and claims filed, the more insurance rates go up for everyone as insurance companies need to collect more to cover damages.
Being an Oregon Friendly Driver means keeping constant awareness of your surroundings, including other people driving, walking, and biking. An Oregon Friendly Driver not only knows the laws and the best ways to drive with them, but also goes above and beyond to support safety on our road ways. We are all trying to get to the places we need to go on one transportation system that often lacks safe infrastructure for all to use. Distracted drivers are likely to cause accidents by failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian or cyclist. But for many drivers, they don’t know when they need to yield the right of way or how to check for bicyclists and pedestrians properly, distracted or not. For many, formalized drivers education ends when they get their first drivers license, which might result in drivers forgetting important information to keep others safe.
The free, online Oregon Friendly Driver course offered through the Oregon Department of Transportation gives drivers the skills they need to safely share the road, and make sure we all get to where we need to go safely. By attending the online course, drivers learn, or are reminded, of how to properly yield the right of way, how to drive safely for conditions, and how to look out for bicyclists and pedestrians. Drivers learn skills to help them avoid accidents, causing less crashes, and keeping insurance rates low for all.
Become an Oregon Friendly Driver to support a nation wide effort to eliminate traffic deaths all together. It is not about who is right or wrong – it is about us all getting home safely at the end of the day.