NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Clark County has one of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the country, and death rates have been rising the past two years.
In 2013, 60 pedestrians were struck and killed in Clark County, a shocking average of one death every six days. Beyond the 60 fatalities, dozens more were injured, including jaywalking incidents as well as pedestrians being struck while legally crossing within crosswalks. These mishaps are not isolated to specific areas of Clark County, and there are no identifiable trends regarding the types of vehicles involved or the time of day the mishaps occur. One thing for sure, this is a growing problem in our area and one that does affect Team Nellis.
Last year, a Nellis AFB member was struck inside of a crosswalk while downtown in what could have very easily been another pedestrian fatality.
After attending a concert, the individual was standing on the side of the roadway talking with friends. The individual became impatient, decided they didn’t want to wait any longer for the crosswalk sign to change, and stepped off the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The individual was struck by the vehicle, smashed into the windshield, and then flipped over the roof and onto the pavement. After being transported by ambulance and admitted to a local hospital, our teammate was extremely lucky to survive this type of impact. A brief moment of impatience and lapse of judgment nearly cost this individual their life.
There are many root causes when it comes to pedestrian mishaps. In some instances, the pedestrian may be at fault when jaywalking, being too intoxicated to navigate across the road safely or being too distracted by personal electronic devices to maintain their situational awareness. In other instances drivers may be at fault when driving aggressively, driving while distracted or failing to ensure a vehicle hasn’t stopped completely for a pedestrian before passing the vehicle.
“The Nevada Highway Patrol wants drivers to understand they aren’t the only ones out there and it isn’t their personal roadway,” said Loy Hixon, NHP trooper. “They have to share the roads with motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.[Drivers] have to understand when they’re out here it’s their responsibility to make sure they watch out, pay attention and most importantly follow laws of the roadway, because they’re put in place to keep people alive.”
Trooper Hixon went on to make a point specifically about the dangers of drivers turning right at a red light, “It is common sense that [drivers] want to look left. They’re looking more for the car versus pedestrian or bicyclist that may be also using the roadway.”
The Nevada Zero Fatalities traffic safety campaign website provides a summary of traffic laws regarding pedestrian safety that are applicable to drivers and pedestrians:
· Must be aware crosswalks exist at intersections, whether there are pavement markings or not.
· Must exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian at all times.
· Must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
· Must, in the presence of a school crossing guard, wait for all persons including the guard to completely clear the road before proceeding.
· Must yield at all times to a blind person using a white cane or service animal.
· Must obey official traffic-control devices.
· Must stay in the right-hand half of the crosswalk whenever practical.
· Must walk on the left side of the street facing traffic if no sidewalk is available.
· May not cross an intersection diagonally unless the intersection is specifically designed for this.
· Must not suddenly walk into the path of a vehicle so that it is impossible for the vehicle to yield.
There are two solutions that will reverse the trend of pedestrian tragedies in Clark County. Drivers need to watch more closely for pedestrians and pedestrians need to be more vigilant about their own personal safety. This may be easier said than done when it comes to trying to fix a county-wide problem, but if each Nellis teammate exercises his or her personal responsibility to be more vigilant, both as drivers and as pedestrians, we can be sure we’re doing our part in protecting ourselves and keeping our community safe.
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