Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

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As school starts, a reminder for drivers to be mindful of pedestrians



Metro Police Officer Darryl McDonald dressed as a pencil and used a crosswalk in a pedestrian-safety campaign last week.

The Clark County School District and Metro Police are bringing awareness to pedestrian and driver safety before a new school year starts on Monday.

During a joint event last week, Metro issued 91 traffic citations for drivers who didn’t stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk of the busy intersection of Wengert and Eastern avenues near Crestwood Elementary School.

Metro Officer Darryl McDonald, playfully dressed as a pencil, crossed the intersection in the crosswalk, and if drivers failed to stop, other officers in a patrol vehicle would issue a ticket. The intersection attracts heavy traffic and aggressive drivers who frequently ignore pedestrians, officials said.

The fines that come with these citations are subject to being double in school zones and school crossing zones. Fines are about $300, officials said.

“We want to ensure that you're driving responsibly,” said Robert Mayer, a CCSD police officer. “You’re going to see more kids out, you’re going to see more kids walking, you’re going to see more kids getting off the bus.”

During the past school year, 12 CCSD students died in traffic-related incidents, said Erin Breen, the director of UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project. These are total incidents not just during the commute to and from school.

“A lot of drivers forget that it’s not just in front of a school, it’s areas around busy streets,” she said. “These are the routes we know that children are walking to school.”

The event was one of many during the week before school started with the intention to create safer streets for students. The other events focused on bus, bike, motorcycle and passenger safety.

“What we do this week before school starts is focus on different ways kids travel to school,” Breen said. “As we talk about the dangers, we’re also trying to encourage parents who live close to school to have their kids walk and bike to school. It’s great commodity, it teaches how to interact, it teaches them good decision-making skills and it cuts down on some of that terrible traffic that surrounds schools.”

Both organizations suggest that pedestrians wear light-colored clothes, walk in groups, stop at every lane and make eye-contact with the driver before crossing the street.

“Parents are our worst offenders,” Breen said. “Especially after school, parents teach their kids bad behaviors because they pull up and honk at them and motion them to cross in the middle of the road.”

For parents, Breen suggests they park a block away and let their kid walk the rest of the way to school to cut back on traffic and to not speed after they drop off their kids.

“We need to get this information out, to not only make sure our kids are getting to and from school — but wherever their en route to — safe,” Mayer said.