Despite a decrease in overall traffic fatalities between 2016 and 2017, pedestrian deaths in Nevada have reached an all-time high. While in 2016, less than 24 percent of the fatalities were pedestrians, that number jumped up to nearly 33 percent just one year later. Today, some individuals are calling for pedestrian safety to be enhanced further through the installation of pedestrian crosswalk lights.
A 17-year-old Nevada resident, Maelynn McLauchlin, was recently hit by a car and killed while walking in a crosswalk near her high school at night. By the next morning, she had died from her sustained injuries. Police say that speeding, drugs, or alcohol use are not considered to be a factor in the crash at this time; the driver, also a 17-year-old high school student, simply did not see her. To prevent another tragedy like this from happening, members McLauchlin’s community are demanding enhanced crosswalk safety through the installation of lights at the multiple crosswalks surrounding the school.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. In June, an 11-year-old girl named Charli Bobinchuck was killed while using a crosswalk at night. Bobinchuck was walking her dog with a trusted adult just before 11 p.m. when a Toyota slammed into the crosswalk, killing her. Months later, her father is a public advocate for adding flashing signs at crosswalks — ones that may save someone else’s life.
Crosswalk lights, which includes both pedestrian-activated flashing yellow beacons and in-pavement lighting, have been found to increase visibility, driver yielding behavior, and reduce collision rates in the crosswalks that have them installed. Unfortunately, illuminated crosswalks can cost up to $20,000 each and be time-consuming to put in place, especially because it is required that a study be completed on every potential crosswalk before installation.
Ultimately, crosswalk lights have the potential to be a life-saving measure for pedestrians nationwide. However, with the high price-tag and lengthy process before installation, only time will tell how willing public officials are to implement this safety precaution into communities.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.