Oregon Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws

Pedestrians and vehicles are often around one another throughout Oregon, particularly near towns and cities. Regardless of whether you are a driver or a pedestrian in this state, you need to be aware of the laws that can affect pedestrian safety. Pedestrians do have the right-of-way in many situations, but this right-of-way is not unlimited. Here, we want to discuss Oregon’s right-of-way laws for pedestrians so that you can remain safe on the state’s roadways.

The right-of-way laws for pedestrians in Oregon

The reality is that right-of-way laws can seem confusing, but they are not horribly complex in this state. The number one rule that we want every driver and pedestrian to know is that every intersection in this state constitutes a pedestrian crosswalk, regardless of whether or not the crosswalk is marked or unmarked or whether or not it is controlled by a traffic device. Drivers need to understand that a pedestrian who is crossing at an intersection has the right-of-way. If every driver understood this, this would prevent a significant percentage of all pedestrian accidents in the state.

However, pedestrians do not have a universal right-of-way in and around the roadway. The following are specific facts that both pedestrians and drivers need to know:

  • If a pedestrian is facing a red light at an intersection, they do not have the right-of-way. Additionally, if the pedestrian is facing a steady yellow light, they are not allowed to enter the roadway. Pedestrians must obey traffic lights.
  • If a pedestrian is facing a signal that says “Wait” or “Do Not Walk,” then they do not have the right-of-way. If a pedestrian enters a crosswalk when the light says “Walk” but then changes to “Wait” or “Do Not Walk,” then the pedestrian needs to move to a point of safety, which can include a traffic island or a footpath. They should wait there until they once again have the right-of-way.
  • Pedestrians cannot leave a curb or footpath when a vehicle is approaching or when a vehicle constitutes an immediate hazard. Pedestrians need to yield the right-of-way to vehicle traffic.
  • If a pedestrian needs to cross the road at any point outside of a marked crosswalk or an intersection, they do not have the right-of-way. Pedestrians in these situations must yield to any vehicle on the roadway.

Drivers must be vigilant when pedestrians are around, even if the driver has the right-of-way. Pedestrians do not have any protection from the force of the vehicle slamming into them, and the likelihood of a severe injury or fatality occurring is significantly increased for pedestrian accidents over traditional vehicle accidents. Oregon drivers must observe the following rules:

  • Drivers must stop and remain stopped if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk (whether an unmarked or a marked crosswalk).
  • Drivers must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian using a guide dog or a white cane and wait until the pedestrian has completely crossed the road before proceeding.
  • Drivers and pedestrians must obey any person conducting official traffic control when they are issuing instructions.
  • When turning at a traffic light, drivers must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians. They must remain stopped until the pedestrian has cleared the vehicle’s lane and until the pedestrian is six feet into the next lane.