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Tragic Reno Pedestrian Crash And Understanding Pedestrian Safety

A Reno man was killed in a pedestrian crash on I-80 in Reno on Tuesday May 4th. The man was identified as fifty-year-old Stephen Rice, a beloved McQueen High School teacher and coach. Nevada highway Patrol responded to a call of a semi-truck swerving into a pedestrian on I-80, near the Mogul exit at seven in the morning. Early investigation suggests that Rice was walking in the right travel lane. The semi-truck driver attempted to swerve and avoid Rice, but the front of the truck hit him. Nevada Highway Patrol stated that the driver did not flee the scene and is cooperating with the investigation [1].

A similar incident occurred in late April in Washoe County when a pedestrian on US-395 was hit by the front of a vehicle [2].

These tragic crashes have become a part of an unfortunate increase in pedestrian fatalities over the past few years in Nevada and nationally. Annually, there is an average of 6,000 pedestrian deaths a year, and they account for about seventeen percent of fatalities on highways [3]. In addition, sixty percent of pedestrian accidents that occur in Nevada happen at a place where there is no crosswalk [4]

Being a Pedestrian on A Freeway… Who is at Fault?

Generally speaking, walking on a highway is illegal, unless a person’s car has broken down and they are walking to the nearest exit. Walking on or near a highway is extremely dangerous; considering the high speeds of vehicles on freeways, being hit is often fatal. If your car breaks down or you need to pull over on a shoulder, it is best to call AAA or a towing service while remaining in the car.

If it is illegal to walk on the freeway then who is at fault if someone gets hit? If the person had not been walking, they would not have been hit, but the law does not always side with the driver. Nevada’s negligence laws state that one must be more than fifty percent responsible for an injury or accident to be held accountable. Additionally, Nevada also follows contributory negligence, meaning that liability is spread proportionally to those at fault. However, if the pedestrian is the claimant and is more at fault than the driver, then they will not receive compensation for the damages [5]. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it is best to contact an injury lawyer, who can look at the facts of the case and help you understand which parties are liable and what compensation you can receive.

Pedestrian Safety

The rising number of pedestrian deaths is a reminder to Nevadans to share the road respectfully. Follow these important steps while driving to protect pedestrians:

  • Slow down at crosswalks and any pedestrian heavy areas such as parking lots.
  • Always follow the speed limit. This can reduce the impact of the accident. Additionally, remember that the speed limit is meant to accommodate the pedestrian traffic in the area.
  • Slowdown in school zones and do not pass school buses. Nineteen percent of child fatalities are caused by pedestrian accidents.
  • Always give the pedestrian the right of way— while some people may jaywalk or cross at the wrong times, it is still your responsibility to give them the right of way.
  • Be extra careful in unfamiliar areas or in obscured weather conditions or at night. It can be hard to spot pedestrians in these areas and it is best to slow down and drive defensively to avoid a collision.
  • Do Not Assume the Pedestrian Can See You! Do not assume the pedestrian can see you as pedestrians may not always notice an oncoming vehicle. If there is confusion at a crosswalk, always make eye contact and communicate clearly.
  • Avoid Distracted Driving/Driving under the influence. Doing either of these can lower your reaction time and increase the chance of hitting a pedestrian. Always keep your focus on the road, and if you are unable to do so, it is best to pull over or use a ride share/taxi service. [6]

Precautions as Pedestrians

  • Always use designated and marked crosswalks. Jaywalking is illegal and can result in you receiving a ticket. It is also very dangerous and can increase your chance of getting struck.
  • Try and increase the chance of a driver seeing you. Similar to biking best practices, wear bright colored clothes or reflective gear, especially in the evening. Also,  try and avoid walking in fog or rain, where driver visibility is greatly reduced.
  • Pay Attention. Don’t be on the phone or play loud music while walking. These can distract you from the road and you may not see an oncoming vehicle.






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