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Oregon Traffic Deaths Spike While Fatal Car Accidents Surge Nationwide

highway traffic car accident

There have not been this many Portland traffic deaths in a single year since 1990.

Top transportation and safety advocates say that the skyrocketing fatal car accident rate in Oregon and across the U.S. has turned into a “crisis.”

In 2021, almost 43,000 people died on U.S. roadways. This is the most people killed by traffic accidents in a single year since 2006, according to the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Locally, this deadly roadway trend plays out in Oregon cities, towns, and rural communities. Portland, for one, had a traumatic 2021. More than 60 people were killed in city auto accidents that year, the most roadway fatalities in over 30 years.

A crisis on the road

The high death toll – 42,915 U.S. roadway fatalities – set an NHTSA record for the highest year-to-year percentage increase in deadly crashes since the government started tracking fatal crashes in 1975.

From 2020 to 2021, roadway deaths shot by more than 10 percent.

Responding to the dire situation, the U.S. will use a part of the $1.3 trillion infrastructure spending package to improve roadway safety for all users, among other initiatives.

“Our country has taken a dangerous and deadly step backwards,” MADD National President Alex Otte told the Associated Press. “More families and more communities are feeling the crushing magnitude of this crisis on our roads.”

Why are there more fatal car accidents now?

Fatal accidents jumped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies suggest that with fewer vehicles on the road, negligent drivers let their good driving habits slip. For example, police departments across the country have reported increased speeding incidents and less seatbelt use.

In Portland, there was a sharp rise in fatal pedestrian accidents. Last year, there were 27 pedestrian deaths. The year before that, 18 pedestrians died in traffic accidents.

The city also experienced a rise in highway accidents. More than half of 2021’s traffic deaths were on state highways compared to the typical 36 percent, KGW8 reports.

Portland’s High Crash Network

Most Portland fatal car accidents – 60 percent – occurred on streets in the “High Crash Network.” The network uses crash data to identify the most dangerous roads in Portland. Roadways in the network include:

  • Killingsworth.
  • Fremont.
  • Marine Drive.
  • Burnside.
  • Foster.
  • 82nd.

The report also identifies the city’s top 30 high crash-risk intersections. These include 122nd at Powell, Division, Stark, Burnside, Glisan; Columbia Boulevard at Killingsworth; and Ceasar E Chavez at Powell.

What causes fatal car accidents?

Many factors cause car accidents, but some arise more often than others. Some of the most common factors behind accidents like head-on, rear-end, angle, sideswipe, or backed into include:

  • Speeding.
  • Disregarded signs or signals.
  • Failure to yield right of way.
  • Distracted driving.
  • Following too closely (tailgating).
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • Rear-ending a car stopped in traffic.
  • Drunk or impaired driving.

Car accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Even the most careful drivers can wind up as seriously injured crash victims. Sometimes, you can’t avoid a driver who is being reckless and end up suffering injuries caused by a crash that was not your fault.

We stand up for crash victims and their families.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. At no cost to you, we can explain how the law applies to your situation and help weigh your legal options.

In addition, you should know that we represent our clients on a contingency fee basis. That means there is no upfront money or retainer required, you aren’t billed hourly, and you pay no fees unless we win your case.

A member of our team is ready to hear from you now. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced Portland car accident lawyer.

Study: Oregon Has Some of the Worst Drivers

Car accident on road

Car accident death rate and speeding were cited as reasons

A recent national study conducted by Car Insurance Comparison ranked Oregon among the top 10 states with the worst drivers in the country due to the large number of car accidents caused by drivers statewide and several other factors.

“You know them when you see them — swerving in and out of lanes, flying down the highway at 100 miles-per-hour, unaware of cyclists and pedestrians, driving erratically down the road,” the Car Insurance Comparison study states. “They are the worst drivers, and they pose a hazard to everyone on the road.”

What makes Oregon’s roads so dangerous? Why do so many car accidents happen statewide? And is the problem getting better or worse in Oregon? The short answer? Car accidents continue to be a serious problem in Oregon.

Which states have the ‘worst drivers’ in the country?

The Car Insurance Comparison study compared car accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for every state based on five different criteria:

  • Car accident death rate
  • Failure to obey traffic laws (including fatal crashes involving drivers not wearing seatbelts, fatal crashes involving unlicensed drivers)
  • Careless driving accidents (based on pedestrian and bicycle accident death rates)
  • Crashes caused by drunk driving
  • Accidents caused by speeding

Using those five categories, Oregon’s drivers were ranked the 9th worst in the country. According to the study, New Mexico and Texas tied for the worst drivers in the nation.

Why do so many car accidents happen in Oregon?

Oregon ranked among the worst nationwide in two categories – the overall car accident death rate and speeding-related fatalities.

According to the Car Insurance Comparison study, 1.36 people die in motor vehicle incidents in Oregon for every 100 million miles traveled. In addition, 28 percent of fatal accidents in Oregon involved speeding drivers.

As for some of the other categories in the Car Insurance Comparison study, 13.86 percent of fatal accidents in Oregon involved drivers or passengers not wearing a seatbelt. In addition, 17.61 percent of fatal car accidents in Oregon involved drivers without a valid driver’s license.

As for pedestrian fatalities, the fatality rate for Oregon was 1.92 deaths per 100,000 people, which was the 9th worst nationwide. Oregon’s per capita bicycle accident fatality rate was also the 9th worst nationwide with 0.28 deaths per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, 76.07 percent of fatal car accidents in Oregon involved drivers with alcohol in them at the time of the crash. This includes 167 car accident fatalities involving drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, which is considered legally drunk. An additional 205 fatalities in Oregon involved drivers with a BAC of 0.07 or lower.

Are Oregon’s roads still as dangerous now?

The Car Insurance Comparison study was based on NHTSA car accident statistics from 2019. Since then, recent crash data shows things in Oregon have only gotten worse.

In 2019, a total of 493 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Oregon. The next year, 508 people died in Oregon car accidents even though there were fewer drivers on the road due to the pandemic.

And in 2021, car accident fatalities in Oregon skyrocketed during the first six months of the year compared to the first six months of 2020. In the first half of 2021, there were 261 car accident deaths in Oregon, an increase of 88 deaths or 51 percent more compared to the first six months of 2020. In 2020, 173 people died in motor vehicle accidents statewide, according to the National Safety Council.

Injured in Portland, Oregon? Talk to a car accident attorney today

If you were injured in a crash, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses, and a car accident lawyer can help in many different ways. From conducting an independent investigation into your crash to negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf, an attorney can aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for the financial compensation you deserve.

At Zbinden & Curtis, our car accident lawyers can help you every step of the way. We know the law and understand how the legal system works in Oregon. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Portland car accident lawyer. We handle accident claims throughout Oregon and Washington.

Study: Roadway Deaths Involving Cannabis Have More Than Doubled Since 2000

Close up of hand on car steering wheel holding a marijuana joint

Oregon Car Accident Attorneys Discuss the Problem

Authorities are discovering more and more that at least one person involved in a fatal car accident has cannabis in their system.

Nationwide, the number of fatal crashes involving cannabis more than doubled – going from 9 percent in 2000 to 21.5 percent in 2018, according to recent Boston Medical Center research.

Crashes where alcohol and cannabis were present also went up from 4.8 percent to 10.8 percent over the same time period.

Marijuana’s contributions to the crash rate may be undercutting the anti-drunk driving effort and making roadways more dangerous, researchers say.

Oregon’s crash rate is up as well

Oregon voted to legalize marijuana in 2014 and, for the most part, has maintained a higher fatal impaired car accident crash rate than the nation.

In 2019, about 0.5 people were killed in impaired driving crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in Oregon, according to federal estimates. The national rate was about 0.3 that same year. This rate includes crashes where at least one of the drivers was impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Some communities experience more impaired driving crashes than others. Among the Oregon cities and towns that have encountered multiple fatal car accidents over the past five years or so are:

  • Albany
  • Bend
  • Eugene
  • Grants Pass
  • Gresham
  • Medford
  • Portland
  • Salem
  • Springfield

Measuring marijuana impairment

Since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, the U.S. has struggled to determine how marijuana affects driving abilities and then also develop a body fluid or breath test to quantify marijuana impairment. This lack of testing and agreed-upon standards has made it difficult to explicitly connect marijuana use to a higher risk for serious and fatal car accidents.

Still, we know that cannabis dulls many of the skills needed for driving, which almost certainly raises the risk of an accident. When people are high on weed, various research has shown that the following skills degrade:

  • Field of vision
  • Distance and time estimation
  • Hand/body steadiness and coordination
  • Traffic signal detection
  • Attention to detail
  • Information processing speed
  • Judging risk

Impaired-accident injuries

Car accidents caused by impaired drivers tend to be violent due to the extra risky driving behavior of high and drunk people. Some of the crash types most frequently associated with impaired driving are head-on collisions, which are often are fatal, and rear-end hits (tailgating, following too closely). Unsafe passing and distracted driving are also factors in impaired crashes.

Crashes caused by drivers under the influence of cannabis often cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries. The severity of the injuries is significantly increased by speeding. Among the most serious injuries related to impaired driving are:

  • Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
  • Leg and knee tears or damage
  • Neck injuries, whiplash
  • Chest pain, cracked ribs, muscle pain, broken clavicle
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), concussion, paralysis, nerve damage, decreased brain function

Don’t let an insurance company bully you into a lowball settlement

As marijuana becomes more common, it is important that Oregon crash victims fully understand their legal rights and options when they’ve been injured in an accident.

It is illegal to drive high in Oregon, but it is not necessary for crash victims to prove the at-fault driver was high at the time of the crash in order to obtain compensation for their losses.

The problem is at-fault drivers often deny responsibility, and insurance companies care more about protecting profits than paying you fair compensation for your losses. That’s why you need a car accident attorney to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you’re entitled to.

If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault or a loved one died in a fatal crash caused by someone else, you need to put yourself in the best possible position to recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys At Law to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. At no cost, a member of our team will listen to the details of your case, explain how the law applies to you, and break down your legal options. We have offices in Portland and Woodburn and we proudly serve clients in Oregon and Washington.

Report Outlines Approach States Can Take To Make Roads Safer

A car accident can happen at any time. It only takes one negligent driver to cause a crash that leaves people seriously injured – or killed. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), U.S. traffic fatalities for 2021 exceeded 40,000 deaths, the highest total in more than ten years. Many others sustained serious, life-changing injuries.

Last month, the GHSA released a report outlining the approach they will take to help make roads safer. The report, titled “Putting the Pieces Together: Addressing the Role of Behavioral Safety in the Safe System Approach,” argues that reducing traffic crashes, injuries and deaths on highways will require a comprehensive solution.

The GHSA’s “Safe System Approach” involves infrastructure improvements, road design changes, equitable enforcement of traffic laws, education and public outreach, and emergency response.

A goal to eliminate fatal and serious crashes

The Safe System framework includes five elements – or “layers” – that state highway offices can focus on:

  • Safe Road Users – States can provide further education about dangerous driving behaviors such as driving impaired, distracted driving and drowsy driving. They can also focus on more equitable enforcement of the law to catch drivers engaging in dangerous behaviors.
  • Safe Vehicles – This involves reducing injuries and death by educating drivers about restraint use, vehicle safety recalls and vehicle safety technologies.
  • Safe Speeds – States can take further steps to enforce speed limits, identify problem areas and take steps to develop speed management programs.
  • Safe Roads – This involves providing support for enforcement and engineering, encouraging the completion of road safety audits and educating the public about road safety features such as roundabouts, Rapid Flashing Beacons/HAWK signals and bike boxes.
  • Post-Crash Care – This involves investing in National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) reporting for underserved areas.

Many of these layers overlap. That’s intentional. The Safe System approach is based on the idea that if one layer fails, the others will “provide a protective effect and lessen the likelihood of a serious or fatal injury in the event of a crash.”

This year, the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to release a National Roadway Safety Strategy that uses the Safe System approach.

An experienced car accident lawyer can help

A car crash can disrupt your life in seconds. Suddenly, you can sustain a serious injury. You might have to be rushed to a hospital. There, doctors might have to perform emergency surgery and other medical procedures. And that might be just the start. You might need imaging tests, follow-up surgery, medication, physical therapy and multiple follow-up appointments with doctors. You might not be able to work because of your injuries. Suddenly, less money might be coming in. And bills can add up fast.

If you were hit by a negligent driver, you deserve financial compensation. Whether they were speeding, texting, driving under the influence or falling asleep at the wheel, reckless drivers need to be held accountable for their actions. But that can get complicated.

Negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong. They may even blame you for what happened. Insurance companies may question the seriousness of your injuries or argue that they were pre-existing medical conditions. Other times, they may offer you a settlement that falls far short of covering the damages you suffered.

That’s why you need an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. At Zbinden & Curtis, our attorneys know how to build strong cases and fight back against insurance company attempts to pay you less. We are determined to help you recover maximum compensation.

If you’ve been injured in Portland, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Poll Suggests Link Between Distracted Driving & Parking Lot Crashes

Rows of cars in a packed parking lot with snow on the ground.

A Portland Car Accident Lawyer Explains What to Know

Life can get very busy this time of year as everyone gets ready for the holidays. Many people get in their cars and head out to the mall, to supermarkets, and to shopping plazas. Unfortunately, the rise in traffic also means a rise in car accidents that happen in parking lots and parking garages.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are tens of thousands of crashes in parking lots and garages across the country every year, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths. Insurance companies report the number of claims goes up on Black Friday and stays above normal through the rest of the holiday shopping season.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Parking Lots

What’s causing all these accidents? According to an NSC public opinion poll, distraction is a big factor.

The poll suggests distraction goes beyond rushing from store to store and thinking about to-do lists. Respondents were asked if they would engage in certain behaviors while behind the wheel in a parking lot. Many said they would:

  • Make or answer phone calls – 66%
  • Use a GPS/navigation system – 63%
  • Adjust settings on a digital music device – 58%
  • Review or send text messages – 56%
  • Glance at or read alerts or notifications – 56%
  • Groom (fix appearance) – 53%
  • Use social media – 52%
  • Review or send emails – 50%
  • Look at, take or post photos or videos – 49%

Distractions are dangerous because they take the driver’s attention away from driving. The driver’s attention may only be diverted for seconds, but a lot can happen during that time. A car can drive around the corner looking for a spot. Or a pedestrian can walk in front of a car, or behind one that is backing out. According to the NSC, 9% of pedestrian deaths in parking lots happened in collisions involving drivers backing up.

People can be seriously injured in parking lot accidents. They may need extensive treatment, and medical expenses can add up quickly. If they can’t work because of their injuries, there is less money coming in, which results in financial stress. Many people wonder how they will pay the bills.

Getting Legal Advice Is Important

If another driver was responsible for the crash, you shouldn’t have to pay for their recklessness. But negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong. Insurance companies may question the seriousness of a victim’s injuries or argue they were pre-existing. Sometimes they’ll make a settlement offer, but it will fall far short of covering all of the damages suffered.

The experienced car accident attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis fight for the injured. We know how to investigate crashes to get the facts and build strong cases that insurance companies have to take seriously. Our lawyers fight for maximum compensation, whether that’s through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.

We hold negligent drivers accountable. If you were hurt in a Portland parking lot accident, learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our attorneys can review the details of your crash, go over your legal options and answer any questions you have so you can decide what to do next.

Car Accident Deaths Increase by 51% in Oregon

Autumn drives in Portland, Oregon - stock photo

A Portland car accident lawyer explains the spike

Fatal car accidents nationwide have increased dramatically so far this year. And the state with the largest increase in motor vehicle fatalities is Oregon, where deaths are up 51% this year compared to the same time in 2020, according to a recent study conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC).

“These figures are not only alarming but devastating as we see once again too many lives lost on the roads,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO, in a statement. “It is up to each and every one of us to do everything we can to be safe and keep each other safe.”

In addition, car accident fatalities in Portland are significantly higher this year as well, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Specifically, traffic fatalities in Portland for the first half of 2021 were 55% higher when compared to last year, according to ODOT figures provided to Oregon Live.

How bad is the problem in Portland and Oregon?

Nationwide, car accident fatalities for the first six months of this year are 16% higher compared to the first six months of 2020, according to the National Safety Council. In the first half of this year, there were 21,450 fatalities nationwide compared to 18,480 fatalities during the same time period last year.

As for Oregon, there were 261 deaths due to car accidents for the first half of this year, an increase of 88 deaths or 51% more compared to the same time period last year, when 173 people died in motor vehicle accidents statewide, according to the National Safety Council.

In Portland, the death toll due to motor vehicle accidents is 28 fatalities for the first half of this year compared to 18 fatalities for the first half of last year, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Common causes of car accidents in Oregon

The National Safety Council cited several reasons why there were more car accident fatalities this year compared to last year. In many cases, the reasons why fatalities are higher nationwide are the same reasons why there are more car accidents in Oregon and Portland, according to officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) interviewed by Oregon Live.

In particular, speeding and drunk driving have been responsible for some of the largest increases in motor vehicle fatalities in Oregon in recent years. In the past 5 years, car accident fatalities in Oregon involving speeding drivers have increased by 16.8%, according to the NHTSA. As for drunk driving, car accident fatalities statewide involving drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher have increased by 8.4% during the same time period.

Crash victims have rights

You might think you don’t need an attorney if another driver clearly caused your car accident in Portland or another part of Oregon. All you have to do is call the police and file a claim with your car insurance company, right?

Don’t be so sure. In many cases, injury claims turn out to be complicated legal cases. Sometimes, it’s because the driver who caused your crash denies doing anything wrong and tries to pin the blame on you. Other times, it’s because the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company does everything they can to reduce or deny your claim so they can protect their bottom line. This is because you may be entitled to receive compensation for your current and future medical expenses, your lost wages, vehicle repairs, your pain and suffering, and other losses that you suffered as a result of the crash.

We know what’s at stake at Zbinden & Curtis. That’s because our attorneys have years of experience representing accident victims in Multnomah County and throughout Oregon. As your law firm, we can be your advocates for justice. We can investigate your accident and deal directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Many agree to negotiate in good faith and make a fair settlement offer once they see we’re serious about your case. If not, we’re not afraid to file a lawsuit for you and fight for your rights in court.

Learn more about how we can help you. Contact our law firm and schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced Portland car accident attorney. We handle injury claims throughout Oregon and Washington.

Two Drivers Die in Portland Head-On Crash

Driver POV (point of view) looking over the windshield wipers through the wet, blurry, partially opaque, partially transparent, spot speckled windshield of a car traveling on a rural highway during an autumn rain storm. Hazy, blurred headlights of approaching vehicle traffic are just blobs of light through the streaking and splattered raindrop water.

A car accident attorney in Oregon explains what to know

A second driver recently died as a result of a head-on collision in Portland, according to the Portland Police Bureau. The police department noted this latest traffic fatality was the 42nd one in Portland so far this year, putting the city on track to surpass the number of traffic fatalities it had from last year when there were 54 deaths. That number was the highest figure in the past 5 years, according to crash data from the City of Portland.

So how common are head-on collisions? Why do they happen? Below, you can learn more about these types of accidents, courtesy of an experienced head-on car accident lawyer who routinely represents crash victims in Portland and throughout Oregon.

Head-on collision statistics

Head-on collisions account for only 2 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. However, deaths due to head-on crashes make up more than 10 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Specifically, there were 3,613 fatal head-on collisions nationwide in 2019, according to the III.

As for Oregon, head-on collisions are common here as well. In 2019, there were 651 head-on car accidents statewide, resulting in 64 fatalities and 431 injuries, according to statistics compiled by the Oregon Department of Transportation. That year, head-on collision fatalities in Oregon accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities statewide, when there were 489 deaths in 2019.

Common causes of head-on car accidents

For two vehicles to collide head-on, a driver must have gone the wrong way or crossed over into another driver’s lane.

Some of the most common causes of head-on car accidents include:

  • Distracted driving, especially texting while driving, even though it’s against the law in Oregon.
  • Going the wrong way on divided highways, especially at night.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Speeding.
  • Falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Driving too fast for hazardous weather conditions, especially in the winter when snow and ice can create slippery road conditions.

The common theme with each of these is negligence, but even if you aren’t sure of the exact cause, you can talk to an attorney to learn more about the legal options available to you.

Contact a head-on car accident lawyer today

If you were injured or a loved one died in a head-on crash, having an attorney on your side can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your case. Instead of insurance companies downplaying the severity of your injuries or denying your claim, a lawyer can protect your rights and advocate for the money you’re entitled to, including compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other appropriate damages.

The dedicated legal team at Zbinden & Curtis can help you every step of the way—we’ve successfully represented injury victims and their families for years in Multnomah County and throughout Oregon.

Discover what we can do for you and contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a Portland head-on car accident attorney. We proudly serve injury victims and their families throughout Oregon and Washington State.

Impaired driving leaves a community in mourning

community in mourning holding lit candlesticks

Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are a danger on the roads. Far too often, it is others who suffer the consequences of their decision to get behind the wheel in that condition. There is an accident that causes fatal injuries. Lives are cut short. Families and friends are left to grieve.

That’s the situation many people in Estacada are now struggling with after a recent fatal car accident.

On Memorial Day, a car was traveling on South Springwater Road when the driver appeared to lose control. The car went into a spin, crossing the center line and crashing into a white Ford pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction.

Three of the car’s five occupants were killed in the crash – Zackary Brian, 18; Jordan Stores, 17; and Reagan Alves, 14.

The 18-year-old driver was arrested and is facing multiple charges, including driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Remembering the victims

Residents of the rural community of about 3,500 in Clackamas County were left in shock by the deadly crash. In June, more than 400 people attended a candlelight vigil for the three teens who lost their lives. Friends shared their memories – “a confident, energetic middle-schooler,” “a goofball and class clown,” a friend who “gave the best hugs in the world.”

The driver made his first court appearance earlier that day.

Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is against the law in Oregon, and for good reason. It is not safe for anyone on the road when a driver is under the influence. Different drugs can affect driving ability in different ways.

For example:

  • Alcohol and marijuana can slow reaction time and impair judgment of time and distance.
  • Methamphetamine and cocaine can lead to aggressive and reckless driving behaviors.
  • Opioids can cause drowsiness and impair memory and thinking skills.
  • Sedatives, such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates, can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

Impaired drivers can easily cause car accidents that result in serious or fatal injuries. Despite widespread knowledge about the dangers of impaired driving, it remains a serious problem. According to the CDC, 1,176 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers in Oregon from 2009 to 2018.

That doesn’t even take into account accidents caused by drivers who were impaired by other drugs.

Our car accident lawyers help Oregon families seek justice

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Impaired Driving Program continues its effort to reduce drunk and drugged driving on many fronts – including education, law enforcement, and public outreach.

Kya Bentley, 17, was the only surviving passenger in the Estacada crash. She suffered serious injuries, but she doesn’t remember any details about the accident.

“All of a sudden everybody was dead,” she said.

Generally, families of loved ones can take civil action to hold impaired drivers financially accountable for their reckless actions. Nothing will ever replace their loss, however, and the process is far from straightforward or easy.

That’s why it’s important to get experienced legal representation. The attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis have been fighting for the rights of crash victims in the Portland area for decades. If you were injured in a car accident or a loved one died in an accident caused by an impaired driver, contact us for a free case evaluation.

Portland taking steps to improve deadly intersection, but is it enough?

A Portland roadway known for pedestrian and bicycle accidents is getting an upgrade that city officials say will make the area a lot safer for people on foot.

This has a Hawthorne Boulevard neighborhood feeling left out and vulnerable.

A grieving father recently reached out to the city’s commissioner to see if changes could be made to the plans that would address risks to cyclists.

Seth Smart, the father of Fallon Smart, a 15-year-old girl who was killed while crossing Hawthorne legally about 5 years ago, said the street needs more effective improvements. Smart said he was excited when he heard about the city’s plans to pave and paint Hawthorne, but as the plans developed, he lost hope.

No bike lanes will be added to the street.

“As this process has developed and the redesign solidified, it has become clear that the changes do not address the safety needs for a street like Hawthorne,” Smart wrote. “A redesign plan that does not include clearly marked protected bike lanes is doomed to repeat the mistakes and the hazards of the past.”

Cyclist safety? Not this time

In response to his letter, the commissioner said that the city’s funds are limited and that the work they have planned is geared toward pedestrian safety. If bike lanes were added to the street, she argued, pedestrians would have to cross them as well as lanes of vehicle traffic. Pedestrian islands would also have to be made smaller.

In a city that has more bicycle commuters than any other major U.S. city, this seems short-sighted, not only to Seth Smart, but other members of the biking community.

Among the upgrades planned for Hawthorne this summer are:

  • The addition of a center turn lane.
  • Pedestrian islands, better lighting, and more crosswalks to be installed at 10 key intersections.
  • The reduction of traffic lanes from four (two for each direction) down to two and a center turn lane.

In the future, updates to Hawthorne may include wider sidewalks and curb extensions — two more features that don’t specifically address bicycle safety.

Is Portland good for bicycles?

Portland is a bicycle-riding paradise — mostly. As of the last count, more than 6% of commuters — or 22,600 people — ride bikes to work. Nationally, the rate of bicycle commuters is 0.5%.

The busiest place for bike traffic in Portland is in the city’s center along SW Naito Parkway.

The city features at least 94 miles of neighborhood greenways, 162 miles of bike lanes, 85 miles of paths, and another 9 miles of marked, shared roadways.

Out of Portland’s nearly 400 designated miles of bikeways, less than 40 miles provide protection between motor vehicles and bicyclists.

To be fair, the City of Portland does put a lot of work into improving infrastructure for the bicycling community. The city features more than 30 intersections with bike-specific traffic signals and 42 “bike boxes” that raise a cyclist’s visibility at intersections.

Bicycle accidents in Portland

On any given day in the summer, Portland can see nearly 49,000 people on bikes getting around the city. For the most part, riders enjoy the trip and have no issues, but accidents do happen.

Every year, about two people die in Portland bicycle accidents. The most recent happened in December when a 64-year-old man was killed in a car vs. bicycle accident on North Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and North Union Court.

When a bicyclist is involved in an accident, it’s almost always the rider that pays the highest price. Injuries caused when a car hits a person on a bike are often severe and include brain injuries, facial fractures, scars, deep cuts, internal bleeding, spinal column injuries, and broken bones.

Injured cyclists have legal rights

If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident that was not your fault, do not rely on an insurance company to look out for your best interests. Yes, you can file a claim with an insurance provider to request compensation for your injuries and other damages. Often, these requests are denied.

The problem is insurance companies are profit-driven and aren’t interested in paying you appropriate compensation for your losses. That’s why you need a savvy, experienced bicycle accident lawyer who understands how to fight for the money you deserve.

At Zbinden & Curtis, LLC, we know how to deal with insurance companies and advocate for maximum compensation. Our firm also offers legal representation on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless you win.

See how our attorneys can help you. Take the first step and contact us today for a free consultation.

How to stay safe when driving in a work zone

Lane closure on a busy road due to road maintenance

Whether it’s paving and bridgework or sidewalk curb ramps and safety improvements, road construction is typically a good sign that warmer weather has arrived in Oregon.

While maintaining and upgrading our roads is clearly important, motorists approaching, going through, and departing work zones should be aware of the increased risk of car accidents.

Construction zones require motorists to immediately adjust their driving; they may need to slow down, stop, merge, change lanes, drive over rough surfaces, and maneuver around obstacles such as road construction workers, traffic cops, heavy machinery, materials, tools, and debris. When drivers aren’t paying attention or otherwise being reckless, serious and sometimes fatal accidents can occur.

Due to the chaotic nature of work zones, it’s even more important to practice safe driving habits so you can avoid causing a crash that results in injury — or worse.

Work zone safety tips

If you avoid recklessness when you’re behind the wheel, you shouldn’t have any problems safely navigating through a work zone. For drivers who already engage in negligent behavior (e.g., speeding, distracted driving, road rage, driving under the influence, etc.), the risk of a crash is heightened around a road construction site.

To avoid dangerous driving behaviors when traveling through a work zone, the Federal Highway Administration offers these tips:

  • Plan ahead. If you don’t want to deal with road construction, check the latest traffic conditions and alter your route as needed.
  • Keep your focus. You shouldn’t be distracted (e.g., texting, eating, self-grooming, using an electronic device, rubbernecking) while you’re driving anyway, but this is even more important in work zones. Pay attention to what other motorists are doing, obey flaggers, and be prepared to maneuver around signs, cones, barrels, raised road structures, and other obstacles.
  • Be mindful of workers. In highway work zones specifically where getting hit by a car likely means a higher-speed collision, watch out for workers. According to the latest crash data from 2019, 135 highway road construction workers died in fatal accidents that year.
  • Be prepared to stop. Traffic patterns change in work zones frequently, which can cause traffic jams and other delays. When you’re approaching a work zone, give yourself plenty of room to slow down and stop to avoid crashing into the rear-end of another motorist. Rear-end car accidents resulted in about 25% of all fatal work zone crashes in 2019.
  • Watch your speed. Speeding is one of the primary causes of all motor vehicle accidents and is even more dangerous around work zones. Always obey the posted speed limit and do not follow the vehicle that’s in front of you too closely. Remember, getting rear-ended by another driver is one of the top ways people die in work zone crashes. From 2018 to 2019, the number of fatal work zone crashes where speeding was a contributing factor increased by almost 40%.
  • Be careful around large vehicles. An 18-wheeler, semi-truck, tanker, dump truck, tractor-trailer, bus, or any other type of big rig needs more time to slow down and can’t maneuver through a work zone as easily as a standard-size passenger vehicle. Large vehicles also have large blind spots, so you should avoid making sudden lane changes and cutting in front of truckers and bus drivers.

Including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, work zone crashes in 2019 resulted in 842 deaths (up 11% over 2018). Simply put, every motorist needs to put safety first when driving in or approaching a work zone. That means you should be respectful of all road workers, your fellow drivers, and everyone else you encounter on the road.

Demand justice after a crash

If you were seriously injured or a loved one died in a fatal work zone crash in Portland or anywhere in Oregon, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for your damages from the at-fault driver. The problem is you aren’t actually seeking money from the driver that’s responsible for your crash, but rather, that driver’s auto insurance company — an entity that has a financial incentive to close your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Don’t let an insurance company downplay the severity of your work zone crash. Let an experienced car accident lawyer handle your claim and fight for maximum compensation.

Find out what a personal injury attorney from Zbinden & Curtis can do for you and contact us right away to schedule a free consultation.