There is one statistic that local moms are focused on right now.
Twenty students have been involved in traffic accidents this school year alone.
Nevada is one of the top 10 states with the worst drivers, with some of the highest rates of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths in the nation.
This local issue strikes fear in the hearts of every local parent I know.
But what can we actually do to improve pedestrian safety — the safety of our children — here in Reno?
The place where we have the most influence is with our own children. I personally use every news release of a pedestrian accident as a teaching moment with my kids. Are they sick of hearing about it? Yes, they are. Will I stop? No.
The reminders I give my children, who walk to and from school on their own, is the same each time. The message consists of these statements:
- You are responsible for your own safety.
- Assume all drivers are not paying attention.
- Always use crosswalks on busy streets.
- Don’t rely on the paint of a crosswalk to keep you safe. Stop and make sure the cars see you and are stopping before you step into the crosswalk. A driver may be breaking the law if they don’t stop for you, but you could end up dead, so the stakes are higher for you as a walker.
- Never use your phone when walking on busy streets. In fact, my kids just leave their phones at home. I can’t tell you how many teens I see in my neighborhood walking around with headphones on and looking down as they cross the street.
Sometimes, I’ll walk to meet my kids on their way home from school. I never tell them when I’m doing it, but each time I’m testing them on their pedestrian safety.
Every time I see a pedestrian making a poor decision, I make sure to tell my kids about it. “See that kid who just crossed without a crosswalk?” “See that person that didn’t watch to make sure traffic was stopping?” I figuratively beat it into their heads on a regular basis. We don’t know the full stories behind the local student accidents this year, but what I do know is that I’ve seen many students making poor decisions that are putting their safety at risk. I’ve seen them jaywalking across Mt. Rose Highway, staring at phones while stepping out in front of cars. It troubles me that many students seem to think they are invincible.
I think you don’t have to remind most parents to do this, but we are all busy. Don’t be tempted to be in a rush or on the phone when you’re in a school zone. Washoe County School District has these reminders:
- Avoid any distractions while driving and remind your children to do the same when walking to or from school.
- Obey all traffic laws and direction from authorities and be aware of the crosswalks in your neighborhood and along your commute.
- Never double-park or pick up/drop off children in an unsafe manner that requires them to unsafely cross the street.
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn.
- Stop and yield to pedestrians using the crosswalks.
- If your children regularly wear dark clothing to school, reflective tape could help make them more visible to motorists in the area.
TAKE CIVIC ACTION
Have you seen an area that needs improved safety? Contact Reno Direct to report it. Reach out to your local Commissioners. Talk to your child’s principal. We can help our local officials identify what areas need attention.
We need a movement here in Reno to make pedestrian safety a priority. Start with your family. Influence our community. Together we can protect what’s most important to us!