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Joshua Shulman
Joshua Shulman
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Do care to use ‘due care’.

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In car accidents in Oregon, there’s a lot of talk surrounding who’s at fault. Sometimes this is clear; other times it’s not. And very often there’s never anyone completely, 100 percent to blame. And as clients come in our office, and as we read about crashes every day, we realize that to prevent this sort of thing, everyone needs to practice what the law calls "due care." It’s the best way to stay safe, and as a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian, you have to do as much as you can to protect yourself against injury.

If you read the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS), you may see mention of practicing "due care." Due care refers to the effort made by an ordinary person to avoid harm to another person, taking the circumstances into account. ORS states the responsibilities of those driving motor vehicles, which includes electric scooters, bicyclists, and pedestrians all with regard to due care. The statutes can be found here:



The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles also mentions these driving rules in the Oregon Driver Manual, which can be found here http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf.

Now that you know what due care is, how can you practice it? Here are some helpful tips.


Under ORS Section 811.005 it states,

Duty to exercise due care. None of the provisions of the vehicle code relieve a pedestrian from the duty to exercise due care or relieve a driver from the duty to exercise due care concerning pedestrians.”

The Driver Manual states that,

“Drivers must recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians…. You must stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian crossing at a crosswalk.”

But that doesn’t excuse a pedestrian from exercising due care. The manual also states that the pedestrian

“must not suddenly leave a curb or other safe waiting place and walk into the path of a vehicle if it is so close that it is an immediate hazard…. When walking, do all you can to make yourself visible to help drivers prevent collisions.”

Practicing due care:

As a driver:

  • Be aware of the pedestrians on the sidewalk. Be especially cautious when approaching intersections, especially when turning, as a pedestrian may continue into the path of the car.

As a pedestrian: Walk in safe areas, stay on sidewalks (avoid walking on the street).

  • When there is a marked crosswalk, use it. Try to wear bright and reflective clothing, especially at night so drivers can clearly see you.
  • But never, never assume a driver can see you, despite all of your efforts. Stop before crossing a street, and wait for the driver of the car to come to a stop before walking. Don’t think that just because you’re in the crosswalk, a driver will stop.


When it comes to cyclists, it gets a little complicated, because bicyclists fall somewhere between car and pedestrian. The Oregon Revised Statues (ORS) mentions responsibilities of drivers with regard to bicyclists and vice versa:

811.055 Failure to yield to bicyclist on sidewalk; penalty (2) Nothing in this subsection relieves the driver of a motor vehicle from the duty to exercise due care.”

Bicyclists are also mentioned in another section of the statutes.

814.400 (3) Application of vehicle laws to bicycles. The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care.”

The Driver Manual states that

“The same traffic rules and regulations apply to both bicyclists and vehicle drivers.”

Practicing due care:

As a driver:

  • Be aware of the bicycles on the sidewalk and in bike lanes. Be especially cautious when approaching intersections, especially when turning, as a bicyclist may continue into the path of the car.
  • Make sure to know your hand signals to know when bicyclists are trying to communicate with you.

As a bicyclist:

  • Make sure you ride on the proper side of the road.
  • Make sure your bike is equipped with working reflectors and lights.
  • Stay in bike lanes when possible or on the side of the street, its safe than the sidewalk.
  • Walk your bike across crosswalks at intersections.
  • Know your hand signals to communicate with drivers.

Personal Electric Vehicles

ORS states:

814.550 (5) Application of vehicle laws to electric personal assistive mobility device.The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of an electric personal assistive mobility device do not relieve an operator or motorist from the duty to exercise due care.”

The Driver Manual states that

“An operator of a low-speed vehicle must follow all rules or laws of the road that apply to persons operating a motor vehicle.”

Practicing due care:

As a driver:

  • Be aware of your surroundings while you drive, especially the sidewalks. Take caution when approaching intersections and crosswalks.

As an operator of a personal electric mobility device:

  • Do not drive in the streets.
  • Use designated crosswalks to cross.
  • Make sure your mobility device is visible at night with reflectors or lights.

Emergency Vehicles

ORS states:

814.050 (2)(b) Failure to yield to ambulance or emergency vehicle. This section does not relieve the driver of an ambulance or emergency vehicle from the duty to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian.”

The Drivers Manual states that

“Drivers of emergency vehicles, such as police, ambulance or fire trucks, must drive with regard for the safety of other highway users.” … “You must yield right of way to emergency vehicles…when these vehicles approach you from any direction using a light or siren.”

Practicing due care:

As a driver:

  • Pay attention to lights and sirens of an emergency vehicle.
  • Pull over to the right side of the road safely, and allow the emergency vehicle to pass.
  • Do not follow an emergency vehicle within 500 feet.

As a driver of an Emergency Vehicle:

  • Ensure your lights and sirens are functioning.
  • Use lights and sirens when tending to an emergency.
  • Ensure that intersections are clear before you enter.

1 Comment

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Very good review of the law, it’s always interesting to see the different ways that States approach these same questions. Hopefully, pedestrians and vehicles will keeps these rules in mind.