Foot traffic in Las Vegas has exceeded capacity at 17 of the city’s busiest intersections, according to data collected by the city in 2012. During that year, there were 46 pedestrian fatalities in Las Vegas, which was nearly double the fatalities in 2011. The number rose to 60 in 2013, and in the first four months of 2014, there were already 20 fatalities.   Broken bones in the legs, blunt trauma and lacerations are the most common type of injuries. The alarming rise in fatalities has prompted County Commissioners to begin developing strategies to increase safety measures and create an awareness plan to prevent crashes that harm pedestrians.

Following pedestrian laws does not eliminate risk

The city’s plan will address the high number of injuries and fatalities occurring in spite of the people on foot who followed posted safety protocol. This type of accident happens primarily in cases where negligent drivers run red lights, fail to obey traffic laws, or do not yield right-of-way to people walking in parking lots. A 70-year-old man suffered serious leg injuries in a parking lot hit-and-run crash in early 2014. Lack of visibility and congestion are factors in many parking lot crashes.   The Las Vegas municipal code states that there are implied crosswalks between sidewalks at any intersection, whether or not there are corresponding markings on the roadway, but walkers in these locations are the most at risk. For example, in February of 2014, a vehicle struck and killed a man attempting to cross Las Vegas Boulevard at an un-signalized crossing. Driver non-compliance is the primary cause of crashes at these intersections.

Distracted driving raises pedestrian risks

Distracted driving has been a factor in more car accidents every year, and this includes those involving foot traffic. The amount of congestion in Las Vegas requires motorists to be alert and focused on the task of driving at all times, but many choose instead to use cell phones for talking and texting. This activity takes the driver’s eyes off the road for about five seconds at a time.   At intersections on streets with speed limits of 55 miles an hour, a driver would need about five seconds to stop the vehicle. During this time, the vehicle travels approximately 100 feet. In spite of Nevada’s no-tolerance policy on the use of hand-held devices, distracted driving continues to cause accidents and fatalities.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the medical and work loss costs of pedestrian crashes reach $55 million annually, but the impact of the crashes on the victims’ families is much higher. Legal counsel is available for victims and family members devastated by an injury or fatality of this nature.