Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 | 9:45 p.m.
With help from the state Pedestrian Safety and Joining Forces programs, the North Las Vegas Police Department is taking steps to reduce pedestrian fatalities.
The North Las Vegas City Council accepted more than $163,000 in state traffic safety grants Wednesday night, matching it with more than $40,000 already in the police department’s budget to implement programs that promote pedestrian and driver safety.
The money will pay for police manpower to target speeding, driving under the influence and not yielding to pedestrians, as well as pedestrians violating traffic laws. The enforcement programs will run from this month until September 2012.
North Las Vegas Police spokeswoman Chrissie Coon said ongoing efforts already have significantly reduced pedestrian fatalities.
“You’ll find that the numbers across the board have been decreasing, because all of the agencies are trying to address those fatalities,” said Coon.
North Las Vegas Police recorded seven pedestrian deaths in 2007.
When pedestrian safety programs were implemented in 2008, the number dropped to three. In 2009 and 2010 one pedestrian was killed each year, and this year the police have not recorded a pedestrian death.
“Our philosophy is educating the public,” Coon said. “Sometimes drivers don’t know what to do.”
Coon said police target problem crosswalks, such as at Craig Road and Ferrell
Street or Las Vegas Boulevard and Bruce Street, with a decoy police officer acting as a pedestrian crossing the street. Signs are posted at the crosswalk in advance to warn drivers that a safety event is under way.
“It’s not about trapping people. That’s why we put the signs out,” Coon said. “We want people to know we are focusing on crosswalks.”
At the last event in August, police handed out 126 citations for failure to yield to pedestrians and drivers, both of whom can be at fault.
“Cars have a duty to stop at the crosswalk,” Coon said. “A lot of fatalities are with pedestrians crossing the street where they shouldn’t be crossing.”