An operation designed to snare and cite drivers on Carson Street who don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks has been getting results, a Nevada Highway Patrol official said Wednesday.
"I definitely think there's been progress," said NHP Sergeant Jim Peterson as he sat astride his motorcycle near a crosswalk linking the Burger King parking lot and the Carson City Mall. Peterson said he didn't have available the percentage decrease in the number of citations issued since the program began this spring.
Peterson and five other NHP officers staked out the intersection, using a walker to test driver compliance with traffic laws. The male pedestrian, whose name officers would not release, entered the crosswalk at least once a minute, sometimes more often.
Drivers who improperly blew by him were cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian within a crosswalk. That failure is a misdemeanor that carries a $75 fine and an administrative fee.
"This has been an ongoing problem," Peterson said. "This is proactive enforcement. We hope to educate the public through enforcement." Peterson said the operation's goal is to prevent accidents from happening, avoiding property damage, injuries and even deaths.
Peterson added that while there's a "percentage of people who don't obey the laws no matter what you do, most people cited have been cooperative. They know they're in violation of the law."
Peterson explained the statute that determines when a failure to yield violation occurs.
"Within the crosswalk, the pedestrian has the right of way to all traffic," he said.
Vehicles must yield to pedestrians when the walkers are in the crosswalk on the vehicle's half of the highway. Vehicles must also yield when pedestrians approach so closely from the opposite half of the highway that they'd be in danger.
But, Peterson pointed out, "pedestrians can't step away from the curb in such a manner that a driver can't stop."
Peterson said the sting began about 9 a.m. and would last about three or four hours. He said stings take place about two days a month in Reno, South Lake Tahoe and Sun Valley in addition to Carson City.
Peterson said Wednesday's operation began slowly as far as the number of citations issued, perhaps an indication that drivers are getting the NHP's message about yielding to pedestrians. About 40 citations were issued during June's operation.