Beaverton Police Department: Back to school driving reminders

By Police Staff

As the summer draws to a close and fall is around the corner, schools are back in session and drivers will need to be more vigilant in school zones. Additionally, this is also a good time for a refresher on some common driving errors.

ORS 811.155 – Failure to stop for bus safety lights.

One of the most common, and most dangerous, violations we see are vehicles that fail to stop for school bus safety lights. Many drivers do not realize they must stop when they are approaching, from either direction, a school bus with safety lights activated – regardless of how many lanes of traffic are between the vehicle and the bus. If the bus and approaching vehicle are separated by a physical barrier, such as a concrete median, the vehicle does not have to stop.

ORS 811.235 – Fine for traffic offenses in school zones.

Another major concern is speeding in school zones. The reason school speed limits are lower is because studies have shown that pedestrians are much more likely to survive being hit by a car if the car is traveling 20 MPH or less. Plus, the slower a vehicle is traveling, the more time the driver has to perceive and react to a potential hazard. When a vehicle increases its speed by 40%, its braking distance is increased by 100%. Therefore, a vehicle traveling at 28 MPH will take twice as long to stop as a vehicle traveling at 20 MPH at the same location. Eight miles-per-hour may not seem like much, but it may be the difference between hitting and not hitting a pedestrian. By driving slower, a driver is going to have more time to see, decide, and react to a hazard and the vehicle will be able to stop in a shorter distance. Plus, the fines for Speeding in a School Zone with a flashing yellow light are doubled.

ORS 811.028 – Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian.

Drivers often do not understand their responsibilities when approaching an intersection where a pedestrian is attempting to cross. The crosswalk law in Oregon can be confusing. It is important to know that there is a crosswalk at every intersection – regardless of whether or not there are lines, or other markings, on the pavement. These crosswalks are either “marked” or “unmarked”, but a pedestrian has the same rights regardless of whether they are at a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Also, a pedestrian is showing an intent to cross when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk.

When a driver is attempting to proceed straight through an intersection and a pedestrian is showing an intent to cross, the driver must stop until the pedestrian has cleared the lane in which the driver is traveling as well as any lane next to the lane the driver is traveling. An example would be of a three-lane road where a pedestrian is attempting to cross from the driver’s right to left. When the pedestrian is in the right lane, both the right and center lane must stop; the left lane may proceed. When the pedestrian gets to the center lane, all lanes must stop. When the pedestrian makes it to the left lane, the center and left lanes must stop; the right lane may proceed through.

Two variables apply when a driver is attempting to make a turn at an intersection where a pedestrian is attempting to cross. The first is whether or not the pedestrian has an electronic traffic control device (walk/don’t walk sign). If the pedestrian’s movements are controlled by an electronic device, a driver may make the turn when the pedestrian is at least six feet away from the lane the driver is turning. If the pedestrian’s movements are not controlled by an electronic device, then the driver may not make the turn until the pedestrian is clear of the lane adjacent to the lane into which the driver is turning.

ORS 811.355 – Improperly executed right turn; ORS 811.340 – Improperly executed left turn.

Improperly executed turns are some of the most common violations. Many drivers don’t realize just how dangerous they are or how much they affect the already-overly-congested traffic flow. A driver making a turn from a single lane into a road that has multiple lanes must turn into the closest lane. A driver making a left turn must turn into the left lane. A driver making a right turn must turn into the right lane. This allows vehicles from both directions to safely make a turn to go the same direction, thereby, relieving some of the congestion caused when drivers are unsure into which lane an approaching driver will turn.

Drive safe out there!

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