Being a pedestrian in Las Vegas has become increasingly dangerous over the last few years, with the number of traffic fatalities involving pedestrians rising steadily since the start of the decade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 29 such deaths were recorded in 2010 while over 46 were counted in 2013.
Many pedestrian-related accidents are caused by carelessness on the part of drivers and pedestrians, disregard for the laws that govern foot traffic and ignorance about what's expected of pedestrians and motorists when someone is walking on local roads and highways.
Police in Las Vegas have been using the same approach to try to prevent these accidents as police in other high-pedestrian cities, such as New York and Austin, cracking down on jaywalkers and pedestrians who fail to yield to traffic. In Austin, a jogger was recently arrested during one such crackdown. The story of her arrest made national and international headlines and sparked lengthy discussions about the safety issues that arise when individuals enter roadways on foot. Jaywalking in Las Vegas carries a heavy fine, but stiff penalties haven't made the city's streets safe for drivers and pedestrians - at least not yet.
To avoid accidents and injuries when you're out on the town, make safe travel your top priority and follow the local rules that apply to pedestrians and motorists sharing the road. Here's a review of when motorists and pedestrians have the right of way in Las Vegas:
According to Nevada Statute 484B.287, pedestrians using a crosswalk, or obeying crossing signage at a local intersection, usually have the right of way, and vehicles are expected to yield to them while they're crossing the street. The only time a pedestrian wouldn't have the right of way is if they were to step off a curb or dart into the street suddenly, obstructing the path of vehicles and giving cars too little time to brake or move out of the way.
If you're a pedestrian, and you don't cross a road at an intersection or in a crosswalk, you must yield to vehicle traffic in all cases. Some roadways lack a crosswalk or intersection, offering you no choice but to cross wherever you can do so safely. Failing to use crosswalks or intersections on streets that do have them, however, is considered jaywalking and could earn you a ticket.
Whether you're obeying the law or not by crossing the road in a place where motorists have the right of way, use extreme caution to prevent an accident. Pick the most well-lit spot you can find along the road. Don't allow yourself to get distracted by things like a ringing cell phone or people around you, and scan the road frequently for unexpected vehicles. Assume that drivers won't see you, even if you try to warn them of your presence. Above all else, don't try to get vehicles to make way for you. Waving your arms at drivers in an effort to get them to slow down or stop, for example, is likely to prevent you from paying attention to what's happening all around you and could easily produce dangerous motor vehicle collisions.
Finally, remember that, when you're drunk, walking in places where vehicle traffic is present is a lot like driving drunk, as far as your personal safety's concerned. Being intoxicated impairs your ability to respond to approaching cars, avoid falling down as you cross a street or assess risk accurately. If you know you're too impaired to operate a car, opt for a cab instead of walking around the city.
Staying safe is often, but not always, a matter of behaving carefully and responsibly. Accidents happen, no matter how hard you may work to prevent them. Should you become involved in a pedestrian-related traffic accident, be sure consult an attorney as soon as possible. Talking with someone who knows Las Vegas law and has experience with personal injury matters can save you time, money and, most important, needless suffering in the aftermath of an accident.