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Metro amps up efforts to keep pedestrians, roadways safer | News

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Metro amps up efforts to keep pedestrians, roadways safer

LAS VEGAS — This year is off to a deadly start on valley roads. Just six weeks into 2015, 12 pedestrians have died across Clark county – nine of those were in Metro's jurisdiction. That's a 350 percent increase over the same time a year ago.

Samira Tamules says a lack of basic infrastructure, like crosswalks or sidewalks, prevent her from walking in her neighborhood with her two children.

“Rarely, very rarely,” she said. “If we do, we're walking around the park here, maybe. Maybe on our street, which is a cul-de-sac, but as far as walking anywhere else, never."

But even when there are crosswalks, police say the bulk of pedestrian who are killed aren't using them. 

The most recent traffic data released from Metro shows half of the deaths this year are from pedestrian error.

“Auto versus pedestrian, doesn't matter where you are at, what you are doing, even if you are in a crosswalk. It isn't a force field. You are going to lose that battle,” said Sgt. Richard Strader, Metro police.

The average age of pedestrians being hit has also gone up.

Erin Breen of UNLV's Vulnerable Road Users Project said the average age for a pedestrian death has increased a full decade. A few years ago, pedestrians between 36 and 46 were most likely to be killed on Las Vegas valley roads. Now, pedestrians in their 50's and 60's are dying more often.

Breen said age and distance are part of the deadly equation. Infrastructure, like crosswalks and signals, are another. 

Signals are set for the average walker, estimated at 3 1/2 feet per second. According to Breen, there's a large segment of elderly persons of our population that literally cannot walk that fast.

Another reason — pedestrians are not using crosswalks.

Despite it all, police are taking pedestrian accidents very seriously and using any and all available resources to combat the problem.

Jaywalking tickets are one way to get pedestrians to cross where they are supposed to. Tickets start at $95 in Clark County and almost $200 in the city.

Officers are targeting intersections and crosswalks throughout February. And additional squad of officers will hit the roads looking for drivers who use their cell phones. Metro is using state grants to pay for the increased enforcement.

Police and safety advocates say reducing these road deaths is a responsibility for everyone.

In the meantime, the city of Las Vegas is working on secondary lighting for sidewalks that will help keep pedestrians visible at night. The city has also adjusted the timing of crosswalks so pedestrians have more time to get across the street.