National report: Las Vegas ranks 13th most dangerous city for pedestrians

18198546_s18198546_s5800222_sThe number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Las Vegas tends to be cyclical, with numbers climbing over two or three years and then falling again. In the last three years, though, fatalities have climbed steeply, and city officials express concern over the continued rise in pedestrian crashes. 2011 ended with 26 fatalities, while there were 46 in 2012 and 60 in 2013. In the first four months of 2014, 20 pedestrians were killed attempting to cross roadways.

Driver negligence at intersections causes many pedestrian crashes

Although some of the injuries and fatalities in recent years are attributed to jaywalkers or pedestrians paying more attention to their smart phones than the traffic, more than one-third of the accidents resulted from negligent drivers failing to obey traffic laws, such as vehicles running red lights. The accidents take place at all times of the day and night, and many happen even though the pedestrian attempted to follow the posted safety protocol, crossing in crosswalks at the appropriate times.

According to the Nevada Bureau of Child Family and Community Wellness, pedestrian accidents are most likely to occur at un-signalized crossings, which is where the risk due to driver non-compliance is the highest. One of the 20 deaths in early 2014 occurred in February, when a pedestrian was killed at four o’clock in the morning while crossing Las Vegas Boulevard at an “implied crosswalk.” According to the Las Vegas municipal code, the lateral lines between sidewalks at any intersection are considered a crosswalk, even when there are no crosswalk markings on the street. According to police, alcohol and drugs were not factors in the accident.

Driving distracted and under the influence raises pedestrian risks

Even though alcohol and drugs were not a factor in that particular case, driving under the influence does play a role in many of the pedestrian crashes. A number of other factors also contribute to pedestrian injury in Las Vegas. These include:

  • Poorly lit streets
  • Traffic light situations such as free yield left and right turn on red
  • Frequent transit stops 

Even though Nevada has a no-tolerance policy on the use of hand-held devices, driver distraction contributes to pedestrian crashes, as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost in medical and work loss for one year of pedestrian crashes is approximately $55 million. This does not account for the impact of the crashes to the victims’ families. Most pedestrian injuries involve broken bones in the legs, lacerations and blunt trauma. Due to the high cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation, victims of pedestrian crashes should seek legal counsel to make sure they do not have to bear the financial burden as well as the physical devastation of the accident.