If you should ever come and visit Oregon, you need to be aware that laws governing pedestrians are probably quite different than what you’re used to.
The main difference is that every single intersection is a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not. So, whether you’re travelling on a residential street or a six-lane arterial road, if a pedestrian is waiting to cross at an intersection (that is, where two roads meet, not necessarily a marked crossing), you must stop to allow them to cross.
This effectively means that pedestrians always have the right of way. It has definitely helped to create higher pedestrian awareness which was very apparent after moving from Florida. In Florida, drivers treat pedestrians with contempt, even when they’re in marked crosswalks and have the right of way. In Oregon however, by and large, drivers will go out of their way to ensure that pedestrians can cross safely.
It also helps to foster a culture of being more aware of your surroundings at the wheel. Since you’re always on the lookout for pedestrians you drive with more attention to the road. Coupled with strong restrictions on cell phone use while driving and Oregon drivers are generally much safer too (as reflected in the 60% drop in my insurance premium after leaving Florida).
So, if you find yourself on the beautiful – though admittedly pocked – roads of Oregon, keep an eye out for pedestrians and give them the right of way.