All too often we hear about serious crashes between people driving and people riding bikes or walking. In fact, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has identified Deschutes County as having a relatively high rate of crashes involving drivers and people riding bikes or walkers that often result in injuries or fatalities. However, most of these tragic crashes are preventable. Research shows that behavior and personal choices influence crash occurrence and severity just as much as roadway design.
Commute Options has launched the Oregon Friendly Driver Program, where drivers learn skills that keep all road users safe. When we all understand the same rules of the road, we can reduce crashes and conflicts and have a better experience while getting where we need to be.
The Oregon Friendly Driver Program is a free 1½-hour class aimed at educating drivers on the best and safest use our streets with people on bicycles and people walking. The class, sponsored by ODOT, is geared towards people who drive for work, such as truck drivers, delivery drivers, bus drivers, contractors, and other employees that spend a lot of time on the roads. Unlike a bicycle safety or pedestrian safety class, this class is designed specifically for drivers to learn how to be a friendly driver.
To be an Oregon Friendly Driver you will learn about:
• The rights and responsibilities of all road users.
• How to avoid common crashes that could involve people bicycling or walking.
• How to drive correctly through bicycling and walking specific road features such as sharrows, bike boxes, green lanes and crosswalks.
Upon successful completion of the class, participants will receive an Oregon Friendly Driver certificate and sticker, which can be displayed on their vehicle.
The City of Fort Collins, Colorado launched a similar friendly driver program in December 2015 and has seen a surge in interest in the classes. Over the last two years, the class has been taught to all city bus operators, over 800 high school students, and several private companies that want to educate their employees about how to be safe on the roads.
Lane County and Portland Metro also have similar statistics for crashes. Commute Options Education Coordinator Kate Armstrong is teaching the classes and helping to develop curriculum for the whole state. “Commute Options is collaborating with organizations in Eugene and Portland to develop a state wide curriculum that can be adapted to each specific region,” Armstrong said.
This program is open now. If you are interested in scheduling a class for your business and employees, contact Kim Curley at Commute Options: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-408-6111.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit commuteoptions.org
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. katybryce.com