Every year, Nevada ranks among the ten states with the worst rates of pedestrian fatalities, according to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Data from the DMV and the Nevada Department of Transportation shows that 234 pedestrians lost their lives between 2008 and 2012. Over the same time period, 784 people sustained injuries in pedestrian accidents.
State data suggests that these accidents pose a growing threat. From 2009 to 2013, the number of reported pedestrian deaths nearly doubled, from 36 to 69. Another 69 fatalities were recorded in 2014, and this year, deaths are on pace to exceed the same figure. Sadly, as any Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer knows, many of these fatalities could be avoided if road users followed traffic rules and laws. By understanding state crosswalk rules, pedestrians and drivers can significantly lower their risk of accident involvement.
According to research, the majority of deadly pedestrian accidents occur outside of marked crosswalks. Therefore, people traveling on foot can reduce their likelihood of experiencing serious accidents by crossing streets at pedestrian bridges, tunnels and crosswalks. Pedestrians should also remember that every intersection contains crosswalks, even if they are not marked.
Pedestrians should only use crosswalks when traffic signals indicate it is safe to do so. A flashing or steady hand is designed to warn people not to enter a crosswalk. When crossing the street, walkers should remain on the right side of the crosswalk. Pedestrians also should always cross to the nearest corner of the intersection, unless a diagonal crosswalk is explicitly marked.
Crosswalk traffic laws
Besides observing these rules, people traveling on foot must stay alert to surrounding traffic, even when they have the right of way. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes, a pedestrian may not step suddenly in front of a vehicle if doing so makes evasive action impossible for the driver.
Under the same statutes, drivers are responsible for exercising caution to prevent needless accidents with pedestrians. Drivers also are required to take several actions to avoid these accidents. As any Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer could explain, these measures include:
- Yielding to pedestrians who are in crosswalks. This rule extends to the unmarked crosswalks present in every intersection.
- Yielding to blind pedestrians under all circumstances. Drivers can identify these individuals by their use of service animals or white canes.
- Stopping when a school crossing guard is present. Drivers cannot proceed until the crossing guard and all other parties have cleared the crosswalk.
- Stopping or slowing down when another vehicle has halted in a travel lane. Drivers should only pass after confirming that the other vehicle is not stopped for a pedestrian.
Sadly, when drivers disregard these laws, the results can be disastrous. As an example, KTVN News recently reported that a 13-year-old pedestrian in Carson City suffered serious head injuries when a vehicle failed to yield. The accident occurred after the driver changed lanes to pass another vehicle, which had stopped for the young pedestrian. This tragic incident could have been avoided if the driver had followed the relevant traffic law and slowed or stopped before passing.
Protecting young pedestrians
As this accident reveals, younger pedestrians may be especially likely to suffer injuries. Sadly, pedestrian accidents account for over one-fifth of fatal traffic accidents involving children between ages 5 and 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These pedestrians may be more vulnerable to accidents and catastrophic or fatal injuries for various reasons. Depending on their age, children may have trouble seeing vehicles, judging their speed or assessing the overall situation. As any Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer would agree, children also may not be as easily visible to drivers. Consequently, motorists should use caution in areas with children and remember that children do not always act predictably near traffic.
According to the CDC, pedestrians can take a few steps to reduce their risk of suffering harm in accidents. In addition to using crosswalks, pedestrians should always walk on sidewalks. On roads that lack sidewalks, walking on the left side to face oncoming traffic is the safest option. Pedestrians also should be aware of their visibility. Motorists are more likely to see people dressed in bright or reflective clothing, especially during inclement weather and at night. Flashlights can also help pedestrians improve their nighttime visibility.
Unfortunately, these measures will not prevent every accident. In many cases, pedestrians may suffer injuries even after following all of the relevant traffic laws and taking other reasonable precautions. In these cases, drivers may be considered at fault, and compensation might be available.
Recourse after accidents
In Nevada, victims of wrongful injuries may be entitled to various damages. These damages may address financial losses, such as medical costs, lost income and diminished earning capacity. General damages for pain and suffering might also be available. However, the final amount of compensation may be reduced if the victim is deemed partly at fault in the accident. For example, if a person is considered 50 percent at fault, the person can only receive half of the available damages.
Due to this policy, it can be beneficial for pedestrians who have sustained injuries in car accidents to seek legal advice. A Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer may be able to assist a victim in documenting the accident circumstances and proving the driver was at fault. These measures can help ensure that, if compensation is awarded, the victim receives the full amount available.