Lawmakers reviewed a bill Tuesday that aims to reduce the scores of pedestrian deaths that happen each year on Nevada roadways.
SB144, which was discussed in the Senate Transportation Committee, would allow local governments or the Nevada Department of Transportation to designate “pedestrian safety zones” where fines are doubled for speeding, as is already done in construction zones.
“We also know that not one piece of legislation is going to fix the problem of deadly carnage that we’re seeing on roadways all over the state,” said Sen. Mark Manendo, a Las Vegas Democrat who sponsored the bill. “But we hope this piece is going to help us a little bit.”
The measure also prohibits drivers from making a U-turn in a school zone when the school speed limit is in effect or when children are around.
It would also prevent cars from passing each other in school zones, something that ensures the most prudent driver is setting the pace, according to Erin Breen of the Transportation Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The pedestrian safety zones would have posted warnings about doubled fines.
“That little reminder that it’s going to cost you more money if you get caught is the biggest deterrent we have,” Breen said.
Another provision clarifies that vehicles that have a green or yellow light and are allowed to make a turn still must yield to any pedestrians in the crosswalk.
The Nevada Department of Transportation reported 70 pedestrian deaths on Nevada roadways in 2014, up one death from 2013. Breen said 39 pedestrians have died after being struck by cars in the past four months in Clark County.
Breen said there were several reasons why so many people were hit, including the fact that many roads in Las Vegas were built after World War II and are wide and car-friendly. High speed limits and wide stretches between crosswalks give pedestrians few places to safely cross.