Pedestrian safety should be a priority
August 13, 2014
Editor's Note: This column was updated from its original verision.
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
The Carson City region has seen a number of collisions involving pedestrians during the past month. This is not only a local issue, but one that affects residents across the state. Last week, the Carson City Sheriff's Office partnered with the Nevada Highway Patrol to issue 50 citations for drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, and additional citations for those who were speeding or using mobile devices while driving. However, pedestrian safety continues to be a concern. With school starting next Monday, more children will be walking to and from school, and drivers will need to be extra cautious. With that in mind, the Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Program wishes to remind motorists and pedestrians of some important safety laws.
Safety is not just a good habit. In Nevada, it's the law (under Nevada Revised Statutes 484). Drivers must exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian at all times, and must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Even when a crosswalk is not painted in the roadway, crosswalks exist at every intersection and drivers should yield for pedestrians if they are present. One law that many drivers are unaware of is that they must stop or slow down before passing another vehicle which has stopped at a crosswalk until they have determined whether that vehicle has stopped for a pedestrian. Drivers are not permitted to use a handheld phone while operating a vehicle, as it creates a distraction. Additionally, drivers must, when directed by the sign of a school crossing guard, wait for all persons including the guard to completely clear the road before proceeding. Parking within 20 ft of a crosswalk is prohibited at all times to ensure pedestrians, especially children, are visible.
Pedestrians have responsibilities, too, according to Nevada law. They must use the sidewalk and the nearest crosswalk, pedestrian bridge or tunnel when possible. Pedestrians must obey official traffic-control devices, and must walk on the left side of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Even though vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians, walkers should be sure to give vehicles plenty of time to stop by not walking suddenly into the path of a vehicle.
There are additional steps pedestrians can take to help ensure they get across the street safely.
• Choose clothes made of light or bright colors that are easier for divers to see. If you're walking in low-light conditions, carry a light or a reflector to add extra visibility.
• If possible, choose to walk in areas with sidewalks or a wide shoulder to give yourself space away from traffic.
• ALWAYS look both ways for traffic before crossing a street. Before stepping in front of a vehicle, make eye contact to ensure the driver sees you, plans on stopping and has time to stop.
• Distractions can be deadly – Remove headphones, hang up your cell phone, texting can wait until you are safely out of the way of traffic.
• Look up, listen, pay attention, and be aware of the environment around you.
It's up to both motorists and pedestrians to make sure our roads are safe for everyone. If you are unsure whether to proceed, pause and wait until you are certain that you can do so safely. Taking a few seconds for safety can save a life, maybe your own. More information on pedestrian safety can be found at http://www.zerofatalitiesNV.com. Let's all work together to improve the safety of Carson City's streets and make sure we all arrive alive.