If you were to release a poll asking Americans what city is most dangerous for pedestrians, a lot of respondents would probably vote for New York City.
The large metropolis is known for its crowded sidewalks, gridlocked streets, and risk-taking drivers and cyclists. The plight of pedestrians in Manhattan has been well-documented in pop culture as well, perhaps most famously when Dustin Hoffman yelled “I’m walkin’ here!” at a pushy cab driver in Midnight Cowboy. However, Manhattan actually has far fewer pedestrian injuries and deaths than Las Vegas.
Pedestrian accident data from 2012 (the last full year national statistics are available for) shows that Clark County and Las Vegas outrank not only Manhattan but other major cities including Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Dallas. The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety reported 43 pedestrian fatalities in the Las Vegas area in 2012 and 60 in 2013. In addition, University Medical Center treated 244 pedestrians struck by vehicles over the course of 2012.
In a Transportation for America report from 2011, Las Vegas ranked as the sixth most dangerous US city for pedestrians, averaging 2.5 deaths for every 100,000 people.
Risks to Pedestrians in Las Vegas
Some of the risk factors for pedestrians in Las Vegas are the same risk factors for pedestrians anywhere in the United States. Alcohol plays into a number of accidents, both in cases when drivers are intoxicated and pedestrians are too drunk to safely navigate the streets. Distraction is another major problem, with both drivers and pedestrians attempting to check their smartphones while traveling.
However, there are also potential risk factors that are more city-specific, including:
• The Las Vegas construction boom: Our city’s recent growth has created an urban center that’s much more suited to drivers than pedestrians. Multi-lane streets, long stretches of road without crosswalks, and streets with 45 mph speed limits all put pedestrians at greater risk for being in an accident.
• Tourism: Las Vegas saw over 39.6 million visitors last year alone, and the number of walkers and drivers who are unfamiliar with the city layout may be contributing to the number of pedestrian fatalities.
• Influx of retirees: Las Vegas is becoming an increasingly popular place for retirees to move, and senior citizens are the highest risk group for pedestrian accidents.
What Our City Is Doing for Pedestrians
Our city streets aren’t going to become safer for pedestrians overnight, but city officials are making strides to improve. Mayor Carolyn Goodman recently announced that Las Vegas will be undergoing a 5-year, $3.5 million program to improve pedestrian safety, and the Nevada Department of Transportation is already working on redesigning areas that have been the sites of multiple pedestrian accidents, such as the intersection at Blue Diamond and Cimarron Road.
If you’re driving or walking in Las Vegas, you should, of course, take precautions to ensure you are not involved in an accident. It should go without saying that you should never drink and drive or text behind the wheel. You should also watch carefully when driving in areas with crosswalks or heavy foot traffic.
If you’re on foot, you should put your phone and other distractions away while walking in order to watch for cars. You should also look both ways before crossing the street, even if you have the right of way, to make sure that no car is running a light or attempting to make a right turn in front of you.
If you are struck by a car while walking, in spite of all your precautions, you should first seek medical attention and then contact an injury attorney in Las Vegas. Hold negligent drivers responsible for their actions and make our roads safer for everyone.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”