Archive for March, 2020

How often do cars crash into buildings and injure or kill pedestrians? More than you think.

Portland auto accident attorney

The possibility of being hit by a car while inside a building rarely crosses anyone’s mind. We tend to think that pedestrian accidents can only occur while walking down the street, using a crosswalk, or while crossing at an intersection.

Crash data compiled by the Storefront Safety Council (SSC) shows that an average of 60 cars crash into buildings each day across the United States. These types of crashes may cause up to 500 fatalities and 4,000 injuries each year.

Here are some local incidents recently reported:

  • In February, the driver of a pickup truck crashed into a Little Ceasar’s pizza restaurant in Portland, according to The Oregonian. The crash resulted in traffic being halted and a gas line being shut down due to a gas leak. The driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was treated at a nearby hospital. No other injuries were reported. Officials were unsure what caused the crash.
  • Only days before the pickup truck crash, a Tesla car malfunctioned and crashed into a building in Woodland, according to KOIN. The driver sustained minor injuries, but no other injuries were reported.
  • In early March, a driver crashed into a Red Robin restaurant in Clackamas, according to KOIN. The driver reportedly hit the gas instead of the brakes. One family was seated near the window where the crash occurred. They barely escaped being struck. Several customers were hit by debris and sustained minor injuries. Nobody was taken to the hospital, however.

Cars into buildings crash causes

According to the SSC, driver error is the number one cause of crashes involving cars and buildings, accounting for roughly 22 percent of all incidents. This often includes distracted driving, speeding, aggressive driving, and drowsy driving.

Pedal errors account for 19 percent of all incidents (as what happened at the Red Robin in Clackamas). This happens when a driver mistakes the gas pedal for the brakes.

Other common causes include drunk or drugged driving (16 percent of all incidents), traffic collisions (10 percent), medical events (9 percent), ramraid burglaries (6 percent). Other causes not mentioned by the SSC could include slippery road conditions and car defects (such as brake failure, wheel detachment, and steering wheel issues).

Which buildings are most at risk?

About 35 percent of all crashes into buildings involve retail stores, according to the SSC. In addition:

  • 28% occur in restaurants
  • 16% occur in commercial buildings
  • 13% occur in offices
  • 8% occur in convenience stores

Many of these buildings aren’t protected by barriers and bollards. In addition, drivers are able to park directly in front of areas where windows and doors are located. This increases the risk of a car-building crash due to a pedal error.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries while inside of a building, the Portland pedestrian accident attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law can help you pursue justice. We know that pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, even when inside of buildings. Our legal team can help you recover all damages owed to you, including medical expenses and lost wages.

Contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.

Portland may soon have the authority to establish its own speed limits

Portland auto accident attorney

As of January 1, 2020, cities across Oregon were granted the authority to lower speed limits by five mph on highways located in residential districts (not including arterial highways). The authority for cities to set speed limits is still limited, however.

The Oregon Joint Committee on Transportation recently voted 10-2 on House Bill 4103, which would authorize the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to allow cities and counties to establish their own speed limits.

How will the speed limits in Portland be impacted?

HB 4103 was introduced as a continuation of HB 2702, which was ushered in by House Representative Rob Nosse (D-Southeast Portland) in 2019. That bill would have given Portland the authority to set its own highway speed limits, but it never made it out of the committee. HB 2702 was influenced by the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s ongoing efforts to reduce the speed limit throughout the city.

“In a big city like mine, where there are more and more people, more and more cars, more traffic — the local jurisdiction needs to be the one to take responsibility for figuring out how fast someone should be allowed to drive,” said Nosse. “I believe we should be setting the speed limit based on how fast motorists should be driving in dense urban neighborhoods, not on how fast people want to drive.”

The efforts of lawmakers is a response to ODOT’s inefficient and ineffective approach to addressing speed limit changes. It can currently take ODOT up to nine months to respond to a speed limit change request. That’s because the agency determines “safe” speed limits on the 85th percentile speed drivers are traveling. Portland has been advocating for the authority to promptly set its own speed limits (independent of ODOT) for more than a decade.

Lawmakers will vote on HB 4103 in March. If it becomes law, it will become effective on October 1, 2020. It will apply to only two counties: Lane and Multnomah (home of Portland).

Why are high speed limits a problem in Portland?

Oregon has seen a four percent increase in traffic fatalities from 2018-2019, according to the National Safety Council. In 2019, approximately 489 people were killed in traffic collisions in the Beaver State. Speed is one of the leading factors in fatal crashes.

Higher speed limits encourage drivers to travel faster. This not only increases the likelihood of a crash being serious or deadly, but it also gives drivers less time to avoid a collision entirely. In dense cities like Portland, pedestrians and bicyclists are especially at risk. Lowering the speed limits in Portland will likely help reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes that happen throughout our city.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash caused by a speeding driver. The car accident attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys At Law can help you take legal actions. We have been serving clients in the Portland area for more than 30 years. Contact us online to set up your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.