Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2021

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Stakeholders meet, brainstorm about pedestrian-safety improvements

Rewriting several Nevada traffic laws could boost enforcement and ultimately create a safer environment for pedestrians, members of a safety coalition say.

A cross-section of community stakeholders — law enforcement, school officials, politicians, traffic engineers and concerned parents — spent an hour Tuesday morning brainstorming ways to improve pedestrian and traffic safety, particularly as it relates to children. The Nevada PTA and Look Out Kids About, a community coalition addressing traffic safety, sponsored the roundtable discussion, the first of several planned meetings.

Their recommendations are far from complete, but the discussion generated a list of key issues to explore as a starting point:

-- Clarifying language in state traffic laws

-- Sending a consistent safety message to adults and children

-- Creating more public service announcements

-- Requiring more time devoted to traffic safety in school curriculum

-- Extending the length of school zones

-- Searching for more grants

The meeting comes after a series of accidents in the fall thrust pedestrian safety into the spotlight.

Nevada PTA President Kimberly Tate said improving pedestrian safety relies heavily on an educated community, especially parents.

“Parents and community members are not going to pay close enough attention until they lose a loved one,” she said. “That is very sad and disheartening.”

It’s a situation Tate, a mother of five, said she witnessed daily in the student drop-off line near Jerome Mack Middle School. Many parents avoid the line by dropping off their children in locations where they must cross busy roads, she said.

“Many (parents) are in a hurry on their way to work,” Tate said. “By letting them off in that place, they need to know they are endangering lives.”

Tuesday’s roundtable mirrored similar ones that took place in 2005, after several pedestrian fatalities occurred near schools, said Robin Munier, president of Look Out Kids About, which formed in the wake of those accidents.

Those community conversations led in 2007 to changes in state law, such as a 20-foot parking restriction at all crosswalks and expanded school police jurisdiction, Munier said.

Fast forward five years, and the coalition hopes to for similar accomplishments.

Attendees tossed around a variety of ideas — everything from enhancing the pedestrian safety portion of driving tests to creating an airport tax to generate funds for safety programs and crossing guards.

Metro Police Officer Michael Lemley argued for rewording state traffic laws for clarification, such as defining where and how people can legally cross streets.

“(Current wording) makes it hard for our law enforcement to enforce a law that’s diluted,” he said.

The group also discussed proposing laws to make it illegal to make U-turns or pass other vehicles in a school zone.

The suggestions pleased Clark County School District Police Chief James Ketsaa, who said he sees many unsafe maneuvers by parents.

“It was good to actually start the dialogue again,” Ketsaa said.

The group plans to meet again in April to narrow down recommendations and decide how to proceed.

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