Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Officials are so concerned about the recent rash of pedestrian accidents they held two press conferences on the topic Tuesday, one in Las Vegas and one in North Las Vegas.
And just an hour after the Metro Police event, another pedestrian was killed, bringing the string to five deaths in 11 days.
Even with the recent events, the number of pedestrian deaths has changed little in the past few years, officials said, but they worry that the trend could worsen as the holiday season approaches.
North Las Vegas Police said they have had eight fatal car accidents so far this year and just one involved a pedestrian. Last year there were 10 fatal accidents in the city.
Officials there have been using a federal grant for the past four years to do special enforcement for traffic safety, plus they participate in the state Joining Forces program for extra enforcement periods.
For the current fiscal year, the police department has $163,000 to spend on enforcement and education for traffic safety, Officer Chrissie Coon said.
Last year, officers spent 1,600 hours on traffic safety efforts and issued 1,154 driving citations, Coon said.
“But when you have a 6-year-old killed in a crosswalk, it doesn’t feel like we’re doing enough,” she said.
In the press conference, Coon and North Las Vegas Mayor Sheri Buck pled with the public to be careful.
“Hopefully this brings some awareness to all of us, as drivers and pedestrians,” Buck said.
The next round of extra enforcement is set to begin next week, with law enforcement agencies across the county focusing on seat belt use and distracted driving, Coon said.
Those areas will be especially important as the holidays approach, she said.
“People get much more distracted and impatient on the road when the holidays come,” Coon said.
Metro Police officials similarly asked the public for patience and caution while driving.
“Keep your heads up, as drivers and pedestrians,” said Sgt. Richard Strader from the fatal accident detail. “Pay attention to what’s going on around you.”
There have been 60 fatal accidents in Metro’s jurisdiction so far this year, Traffic Bureau Capt. Mark Tavarez said. Of those, 19 involved pedestrians, and in at least 15 of those cases, the pedestrians were at fault.
“The pedestrian has the responsibility to make sure the vehicles have stopped,” Strader said. “They can’t just jump out.”
But Tavarez said the motorist has responsibility as well. “It’s important that drivers everywhere expect the unexpected,” he said.
Strader agreed: “It’s everybody’s responsibility to be safe out there.”