Friday, March 4, 2016 | 1:59 p.m.
Ninety-two pairs of shoes were laid out at the front entrance of University Medical Center this morning. They represented the number of pedestrian deaths in Nevada from Jan. 1, 2015, to Feb. 26 this year.
Pedestrian fatalities have reached an epidemic level, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation. Already this year, there have been 19 pedestrian deaths, a 46 percent increase from the same period last year.
In response, NDOT is launching the ePEDemic.org website and awareness campaign. Billboards, radio announcements, digital ads and social media posts will run across Southern Nevada through early April.
“The rampant rise in pedestrian fatalities the first few months of this year is alarming and demands an immediate response,” NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said. Pedestrian deaths are outpacing those from HIV, breast cancer and influenza, he said.
“ePEDemic.org is a statewide information campaign that reminds pedestrians and drivers to be more aware,” Illa said. “No one should lose their life crossing the street.”
Sherry Bush of Las Vegas has experienced firsthand the pain of such a tragedy. Her son James Spangoli, 25, was hit and killed in February 2013 while crossing the street near Flamingo Road and Riley Street, not far from their home.
“He went to go get a Slurpee from the store,” Bush said. “I didn’t think anything of it.”
Bush warned people to watch out for pedestrians and for pedestrians to take their time and use a crosswalk. “I don’t want my nightmare to become someone else’s reality,” she said.
According to crash reports, pedestrian fatalities happen most frequently on roads with speeds averaging 40 mph and often at night.
The behaviors that contribute most frequently to pedestrian fatalities include crossing improperly or jaywalking, not being visible, darting into the roadway, drivers not yielding and drivers and pedestrians failing to look out for each other, NDOT officials said.
“Two years in a row now we’ve had record pedestrian fatalities,” said Erin Breen, UNLV director of the Vulnerable Road Users Project. “We’re not doing any better. We’ve got to do more.”
NDOT is also making road engineering improvements that can ultimately help save lives, Illa said.
Improvements include $6.5 million in pedestrian and motorist safety upgrades along Lake Mead Boulevard, from Civic Center Drive to Pecos Road in North Las Vegas, and $2 million in similar enhancements along Charleston Boulevard, from Hillside Place to Burnham Avenue and between Arden Street and Nellis Boulevard in Las Vegas.