Clark County Focuses on Preventing Pedestrian Deaths as Fatalities Continue to Rise in Southern Nevada

September 2023 was one of the deadliest months for pedestrians on record for Southern Nevada, aa the southern region saw eleven pedestrian fatalities during September alone. Erin Breen, a spokesperson for Road Equity Alliance Project, stated that this is one of the highest monthly numbers the region has seen in the past twenty-seven years. Statewide, the Nevada Department of Public Safety has reported seventy-three total pedestrian deaths during the first nine months of the year, which is up from the same period last year. [1]

Recent Pedestrian Accidents in Nevada Renew Calls for Pedestrian Safety

A couple hours before these updated statistics were announced regarding September, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said that a pedestrian was transported to a nearby hospital after being struck by a truck near Mount Mariah Drive and West Lake Mead Boulevard. [2]

Pedestrian safety isn’t just an issue concentrated in Southern Nevada and should be a concern to everyone across the state. On Saturday October 8th, a pedestrian was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident in Reno, Nevada. The Reno Police Department noted that the pedestrian was not in a marked crosswalk, and the driver quickly fled the scene while witnesses did remain to help with their investigation [3].

These accidents once again highlight the concerns voiced by Nevada traffic authorities regarding traffic safety, and Erin Breen notes that slowing down and stopping at marked crossed walks can significantly reduce the chance of fatalities.

As redundant as advice like slowing down and yielding to pedestrian right of way may sound, taking these extra steps can save lives, especially the lives of young Nevadans. Clark County School District Police Captain Bob Mayer emphasized that since the school year began in August, there have been nearly twenty children hit by vehicles near or on district school campuses. On Friday October 7th, a five-year-old was killed after being struck by a vehicle while being dropped off at Somerset Academy in Las Vegas. The driver of the vehicle was arrested and faces involuntary manslaughter charges. Pedestrian accidents and fatalities in school zones are tragic, and often boil down to inattentiveness, according to Captain Mayer, and it is easy for drivers to become preoccupied while behind the wheel. Mayer also encourages parents to speak with their child on pedestrian safety and proper pedestrian etiquette, so children are better prepared when in a school zone.

A National Pattern

Nevada isn’t the only state to experience this increase in pedestrian deaths year-over-year, and this reflects a nationwide pattern. Pedestrian deaths hit a forty year high in 2021, and between 2019 and 2022, pedestrian deaths surged eighteen percent according to a study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). [4] Statistics also show that in 2022 there were 1.04 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people, an increase from 0.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2019.

In addition, pedestrian deaths have increased in twenty-four states in the first half of last year, while four states’ numbers stayed unchanged. Florida, California, and Texas make up for about thirty percent of the pedestrian deaths nationwide (and make up for twenty-eight percent of the US population). [5]

Steps to Take to Ensure Safety as a Pedestrian

These statistics can be particularly scary and concerning to those who are frequent pedestrians and rely on walking as their main form of commute. However, we are all pedestrians at some point in time—whether it be walking in a parking lot or while crossing the street. The following measures can be taken to keep yourself safe:

  • Always utilize designated crosswalks or pedestrian bridges when available—they are there for a reason. If one isn’t available, find an area where you are visible to oncoming vehicle, and only cross when you know it is safe to do so.
  • Walking on sidewalks or paths designated for pedestrians, rather than on the road. If none of these are available, walk on the shoulder of the road, facing traffic so you are more visible.
  • Just like distracted driving, you can be distracted while walking which can slow your reaction time to events occurring around you. Avoid walking while on your phone or with your earbuds in.
  • Over half of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. If walking at dusk/night, increase your visibility by wearing light-colored or reflective clothing or by carrying a flashlight with you. This can make it easier to be seen by oncoming vehicles.
  • Educate young children about crossing, signals, and other etiquette of being a pedestrian. Walk with them until they are comfortable walking in a traffic-heavy areas like a school zones or busy intersections. Twenty-one percent of children (those under 14) who were killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians. [6]

[1] https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/traffic/pedestrian-safety-highlighted-after-deadly-september-2918304

[2] https://www.fox5vegas.com/2023/10/09/las-vegas-police-say-pedestrian-critical-condition-after-hit-by-truck/

[3] https://www.kolotv.com/2023/10/08/heavy-police-presence-leads-closure-kietzke-lane/

[4] https://www.ghsa.org/issues/traffic-records

[5] https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2023-02-28/u-s-pedestrian-deaths-keep-rising

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/pedestrian_safety/index.html

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