MPD: Last three people hit by cars weren’t using crosswalks

MEDFORD, Ore. — Wednesday night marks the fourth crash that NBC5 News has covered on that stretch of South Pacific Highway since November first.

Police say many of the recent incidents have one thing in common.

In Medford, there have been three severe pedestrian-vehicle crashes in the past 35 days.

“Drivers are not expecting to encounter pedestrians in the middle of the road,” said Medford Police Lieutenant Mike Budreau.

Another pedestrian hit by a car, this one along South Pacific Highway and Garfield in south Medford.

“We’re not sure what their reasoning is for crossing,” Lt. Budreau said, “we don’t know if they’re expecting vehicles to see them and yield to them.”

This makes the third pedestrian-vehicle crash in Medford in the last 35 days, the fourth on this stretch of 99, a number police say is high above the norm.

Oregon laws allow people to cross the street at any intersection, even if it’s not marked.

However, if it is, you’re required to use the crosswalk and follow the traffic signals.

Police say in these last three cases the people hit weren’t using crosswalks.

“They’re actually in the lane of traffic and an area of the road where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour,” said Lt. Budreau.

Lt. Budreau said pedestrians might be underestimating the drivers speed or expecting them to stop.

“That’s just not realistic.”

“Pedestrian vehicle crashes are unfortunate, unfortunately they happen this time of year,” said Oregon Department of Transportation Spokesman Gary Leaming, saying pedestrian crashes aren’t uncommon when it gets dark earlier.

“We just don’t light linear stretches, it’s just not what we do, it’s expensive.”

ODOT said there are hundreds of miles of state highways without street lights, just like the area of Wednesday’s crash.

“We can light up the whole corridor, but we’ll still have vehicle vs pedestrian crashes cause we see that in intersections,” said Leaming.

Officials say regardless of lighting, it’s about being careful.

“They need to express extreme caution when they’re going to be crossing the road,” said Lt. Budreau, “and don’t expect that cars are gonna see you because you’re going to be in the road.”

“This is a really big issue,” Leaming said, “it really takes a lot of judgement and awareness.”

ODOT said that area of 99 is an area on their radar for better lighting.

They expect that will happen when the city decides to re-develop it.

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