Slow your roll

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles should require drivers to retake the written test every time they renew their licenses. It's stupid, right? But take a look at traffic around the valley, and it becomes clear that it's also necessary. Seriously, take a look. Watch as drivers at intersections fail to yield correctly. Watch as they change lanes in the middle of a left turn. Watch as they fail to yield at all to bicyclists and pedestrians.

More than 60 percent of pedestrians killed in Nevada during 2015 were killed midblock of an intersection. That's according to the state DMV. It's why the Nevada Driver's Manual advises pedestrians that while “[you] have the right-of-way in a crosswalk and at intersections, vehicles don't always stop. Before you step off the curb, make certain cars in both directions have stopped.”

Sounds simple enough, but ask any regular walker, and they're likely to tell you that's not the case. Too often when a pedestrian hesitates at the crosswalk or waves to a slowing driver to signal thanks for yielding, that driver will take it to mean, “No, you go ahead.” That is not what the pedestrian is saying. Do they look like they're waving you through like a road construction flagger? Stop all the way first to check. It's the law.

And smart walkers know that intersections aren't the only frightening places. Everyday driveways scare them too. All too often, drivers backing out of their own drives only look in the direction of the traffic into which they're backing. Just as they do at stop signs, they fail to look up and down sidewalks for pedestrians.

And what about those who say pedestrians need to be more responsible for their own safety? What about those who buy the line that most pedestrian deaths are caused by their own negligence? That notion doesn't hold water—in part because able-bodied adults of sound mind aren't the only ones walking our public streets. The elderly use them, the differently-abled and, of course, children. Again, take a look. The memorials to the ones who've been killed can be seen at intersections around the valley. The news reports are frequent. Just last month, two Traner Middle School students were hit by an SUV. They were in a crosswalk. The 12-year-old girl who struck was wounded so grievously she was still in the hospital last week—her family still asking for prayers and also donations through a GoFundMe page to help with the costs.

Trucks and SUVs generally range between 3,500 and 5,500 pounds. Most vehicles, though, are multi-ton machines. They're inherently dangerous. Yet we, as their operators, are often more concerned with the radios they contain, their climate control systems, the coffee in our cup holders. That's fine, but we've got to remember to put those concerns on hold—when we're backing out of driveways or approaching intersections or crosswalks.

Please, look both ways. Slow down. Stop for pedestrians. Take some time, so you don't accidentally take a life.