Startling Number of Pedestrian Fatalities Are Walking Drunk

RENO, NV - According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fully 37 percent--that's more than a third--of the pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are over the blood alcohol limit.

In fact, statistically speaking, it's almost three times more likely that the pedestrian in these accidents is drunk than the driver.

One in eight pedestrian fatalities involves an impaired driver.

For decades enforcement has focused on the drunk driver and rightly so. But choosing the walk home instead of getting behind the wheel may still put you at risk.

"Maybe people think they are doing the right thing by not driving home and going to jail for DUI, but not getting home at all is much worse," says Trooper Chuck Allen of the Nevada Highway Patrol. "The best practice is having a safe ride home. Call a friend, take a taxi, ride a bus."

While the national numbers are surprising, they aren't reflected locally. In spite of all our bars and periodic pub crawls, pedestrians in Reno have rarely been victims of their own decisions.

Last year Reno had eight pedestrian fatalities. Just one involved an impaired person afoot. None of this year's five fatalities so far has involved a drunk pedestrian.

That doesn't mean it hasn't happened or won't happen again.

Veteran cops like Allen have seen examples, even inebriated people trying to run across the Interstate and getting hit. But he says, he sees people putting themselves at risk every day.

"Just watching people in general crossing the street. They're relying on a piece of electronic equipment telling them it's safe to cross," says Allen, "but I don't see many people actually looking at traffic with their eyes, making sure that every lane of traffic has stopped."

And, he adds, under the influence, they are much less likely to do so.

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