Two major accidents in the past month have highlighted the need for both pedestrians and drivers to be more aware of each other.
Carson Sheriff Kenny Furlong said Michael Shields was killed Nov. 11 when he was struck by a motorcycle crossing Stewart Street at Telegraph Street. The motorcyclist was taken to Renown Hospital in critical condition.
Then just this past Tuesday, Augustine Medina-Naranjo was seriously injured while crossing north Carson Street at Adams Street.
And Furlong said those are far from the only pedestrian accidents the capital has seen recently. He said there have been numerous accidents where some one was less seriously injured or escaped injury including his own grandson who was hit while on his bicycle.
He said the problem is nothing new, that two pedestrians also were killed in the past 18 months crossing Highway 50 East.
In those two cases, he said, they were crossing the highway at night and not in a crosswalk.
Furlong said the problem seems to be getting worse in the capital.
“I don’t find maliciousness in these drivers,” he said.
He said pedestrians are difficult to see whether it’s in lit areas like Adams Street or dark areas like Stewart.
“Both were in very light traffic and when we have that, drivers tend not to pay as good attention,” he said. “The pedestrian feels safer because there’s not that much traffic and the drivers are on autopilot.”
He said the situation becomes more challenging this time of year when sunset arrives much earlier in the evening. In addition, for many young people, fashion means a dark gray or black coat that’s even harder to see at night.
The situation also has the Nevada Highway Patrol concerned.
“It seems like pedestrians now have gotten kind of used to assuming drivers see them and assuming the driver is going to stop because they are in a crosswalk,” said Trooper Dave Gibson, NHP Public Information Officer.
Many of these accidents happen on four-lane roads like Carson Street where the vehicle in the lane nearest you stops but the vehicle in the right hand lane doesn’t know you’re even there.
Both Gibson and Furlong said avoiding the accidents is a shared responsibility, not just that of the driver.
For the pedestrian, they said the key is making certain the driver knows you are there before stepping off the curb.
“Don’t step out into the road especially in daylight until you’ve made eye contact with the driver of the car and know he’s seen you,” Gibson said.
“If the driver isn’t looking at you, you’re in danger,” said Furlong.
Gibson said there have been some accidents in the Reno area where the victims were crossing in the middle of a block at night — two in the past few months.
“We’ve had a very difficult month,” said Furlong. “Everybody needs to watch out and, yes, we have told officers to increase their enforcement.”
Gibson said NHP too is focusing more attention on enforcement.
But he said it’s most important for the pedestrian even though he or she may think they have the right-of-ways because, “Every time you have a car hit a person, the person is going to lose.”