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Pedestrian safety, situational awareness
Everyone is obligated to abide by the same traffic laws to ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists alike. (Courtesy graphic)
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Pedestrian safety

Posted 8/11/2011   Updated 8/12/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt Jose Martinez
99th Air Base Wing Ground Safety

8/11/2011 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The shiny, 6-foot-tall turkey moves cautiously through the crosswalk. A vehicle speeds by him, failing to yield. The turkey signals to a nearby Las Vegas police motorcycle officer, who hits his lights and siren and pulls the vehicle over. The officer issues a citation, resulting in a fine of $160 to $200, to the driver.

The Las Vegas Metro Police have used a giant turkey "mascot" to raise awareness of an issue that has long given Las Vegas a black eye: pedestrian fatalities. The police developed this practice because they wanted to know - if motorists cannot see a giant red turkey in the middle of the crosswalk, are they really looking for pedestrians at all?

This year, as of Aug. 5, 2011, there have been 12 pedestrian fatalities in Clark County. In 2010, there were 34 pedestrian fatalities.

These fatalities happen all over Clark County, but most of the accidents that involve vehicles striking pedestrians occur on the Las Vegas strip. In many cases, combinations of inattention, alcohol, and/or jaywalking played a part in why a vehicle struck a pedestrian. Other factors include: high levels of pedestrian traffic, speeding, and bad weather conditions, primarily the high temperatures that heat the oil in the asphalt, which erode paint lines and make it difficult for motorists to see crosswalk areas.

Out of all these factors, jaywalking is entirely dependent upon the pedestrian. Las Vegas' legal order against jaywalking mandates that, "Between adjacent intersections at which official traffic-control devices are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk," according to Rules of the Road Nevada revised statute 484B. In other words, a person cannot cut across the middle of the street.

Jaywalking in Las Vegas is normally a minor offense and is treated like a parking ticket. In many cases, if caught jaywalking, the police will issue a citation, with a due date to pay the fine, and no points will be added to the violator's driver's license. In Clark County, the typical jaywalking fine is $198.

But in certain cases, jaywalking can become very serious. In Nevada, if a person's alleged jaywalking possibly caused a car accident, the officer might detain that person for questioning and possibly arrest that person for jaywalking or a related crime, such as reckless endangerment. If the alleged jaywalking caused a fatality, the jaywalker could be arrested for involuntary manslaughter.

As always, abiding by the laws is the best way to keep everyone as safe as possible. For pedestrians, there are additional precautions people can follow to protect themselves. When walking on the strip, take advantage of the pedestrian bridges. If no bridge is available, utilize a designated crosswalk and wait until the "walk" signal appears to cross the street. When crossing the street, keep an eye out for vehicles that look like they may try to run through the red light or vehicles that intend to turn into the intersection.

Remember that even though it is the motorists' responsibility to yield to pedestrians, it is everyone's responsibility to pay attention and follow the rules of the road.

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