This week on October 15-17, law enforcement officials from all over the State of Nevada will be convening at the 2019 Nevada Traffic Safety Summit at the Nugget Casino Resort to share best practices and strategies for decreasing the number of pedestrian fatalities in the area.
The multi-jurisdictional Vision Zero Truckee Meadows task force recently came together with a mission to bring the number of roadway fatalities down to zero by the year 2030. According to the State of Nevada’s July Fatality Report, there were eight pedestrian fatalities from January 1-July 31, 2019 which is a 100 percent increase from the four fatalities in the same period from January 1-July 31, 2018. Pedestrian fatalities in Washoe County make up 36 percent of overall car accident fatalities, sprouting a dangerous trend in Northern Nevada.
In the City of Reno, there have been six pedestrian fatalities so far in 2019 and nine total pedestrian fatalities in 2018.
“Many of the fatal crashes happen at nighttime, most in the roadway (and not in the intersections),” says Reno Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Warren. Simply put, most tragic accidents happen when a vehicle hits a person when they’re wearing dark clothing and jaywalking at night. That combined with a distracted or speeding driver makes for a dangerous combination.
Warren adds that there are some common attributes between the pedestrian fatality incidents in Reno; in three fatalities in 2019 and one from 2018, the victims were all males over 50 years old, wearing dark clothing, and walking at night in unlit areas outside of crosswalks.
“Even cyclists should take their headphones out and pay attention to what’s going on around them,” Officer Warren says. “Drivers should put down distractions, slow down, and pedestrians should use crosswalks and make eye contract with the driver to assure that they see you and know that you’re crossing the road,” he adds.
Everyone needs to be more aware, but pedestrians need to make a conscious decision to safely cross the street which means that they need to watch out for their surroundings and not attempt to get to the other side unless they’re 100 percent sure that it’s safe.
“Don’t rely on someone seeing you, you need to see them too,” Officer Warren says. The Reno Police Department, Nevada Department of Transportation, Safe Kids Coalition, and other entities have been handing out reflective bracelets and reflective strips to put on backpacks, helmets, and others to help become visible when walking or biking along Washoe County’s roadways.
“It may not be the coolest thing to wear bright clothing, but it really helps in low lit areas,” says Officer Warren.
The Vision Zero task force is comprised of local leaders from entities including: the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County, the City of Reno, the City of Sparks, Washoe County, Nevada Department of Transportation, Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA), Reno & Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Safe Kids Coalition, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Washoe County School District, and members of the public.
At the 2019 Nevada Traffic Safety Summit, the Vision Zero task force will set up a crash simulation and the Reno Police Department will do a DUI demonstration. There will also be a lot of discussion on the four E’s of traffic safety: Engagement, Engineering, Enforcement, and Education.
“We want to remind people to slow down, use crosswalks, and remove any distractions while driving,” adds Officer Warren.
For more information about Vision Zero and how to get involved, visit http://visionzerotruckeemeadows.com/.