Portland Metro region continues to experience an increase in pedestrian deaths, a trend that much of the nation is experiencing. We launched the Speed Kills education campaign with the goal of empowering youth voices to engage with and inform their communities on the clear danger that high speed driving presents. 

We know the single greatest factor of a traffic crash turning into a pedestrian fatality is a vehicle driving above safe speeds.

The graphic above comes from our own fatal pedestrian crash report, which took an in-depth look at all fatal pedestrian crashes in Portland between January of 2017 to January of 2020. 

This phenomenon, sadly, is not exclusive to Portland, as highlighted by a recent New York Times article.

What can be done about the rise in pedestrian fatalities? Short answer: many things, at many levels. 

That being said, something that all drivers can do, nationally, state-wide, and in our region, is to follow the basic speed rule. In Oregon, a violation of the basic speed rule involves someone “driving a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to all of the following:

(a.) The Traffic

(b.) The surface and width of the highway

(c.) The hazard at intersections

(d.) Weather

(e.) Visibility

(f.) Any other conditions then existing.” (ORS 811.100)

Technical language aside, the basic speed rule states drivers should travel at a speed that is safe for the conditions. With the basic speed rule in mind, many Portlanders will remember PBOT’s 2018 “20 is Plenty” campaign which lowered the speed limit in hopes of making safer streets.

Photo credit: Hannah Schafer PBOT

While a good step, unfortunately, speed limit changes alone aren’t enough to solve the problem that speed kills. A 2022 study from Portland State University shows that changing the speed limit and adding more signs did not significantly change driving speeds of Portland drivers.

Again, what can be done? Infrastructure changes that force drivers to slow down often take time and money. Automated camera enforcement has been severely delayed in its deployment, though recent progress has been made. The Speed Kills Campaign aims to help by having communities be informed on the significant dangers of high speed driving, with this message being caried by their own community members, especially young people. 

Specifically, with funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation, we will promote youth-made content across social media platforms to inform on how speed kills and the dangers posed by driving at speeds greater than is reasonable and prudent. 

As the campaign goes on, we will be posting youth-produced content and media on this page, so please make sure to check back for more!

Interested in getting involved with the campaign? Please contact Ian at ian@oregonwalks.org.