Dangerous trend: Pedestrian fatalities on the rise in Washoe Co.

By  | 

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Another pedestrian died on a local street Monday, the latest in a disturbing trend.

The victim was hit and killed at about 3AM on Sun Valley Boulevard right in front of Hobey's Casino. The driver left the scene, but later returned and was charged. Neither drugs nor alcohol were thought to be a factor.

Other details will follow as the investigation is completed, but we already know that this was the ninth pedestrian fatality so far this year. That's more that double last year's total already. That's an increase all the more notable as fatalities elsewhere in the state are coming down.

"Which is alarming," says Rebecca Kaputer, the Senior Planner at the Regional Transportation Commission. "We're trying to identify trends and make equitable decisions based on those trends."

And clues to what's behind that trend lie in the details that emerge from this fatality and the others. It already fits a factor that's been identified in some of the others.

"Our data is showing that crashes are happening at night and lighting may be an issue."

A risk which will only increase in the darker months ahead.

These accidents are being studied by an RTC-led task force: Vision Zero Truckee Meadows. It's aimed at a goal of zero fatalities by 2030.

The man who was hit in Sun Valley was determined to be 72 years old; a fact that the task force will take into consideration.

"A lot of our fatalities have been age 55 and older so we're reaching out to seniors and older folks about safety. We look on every crash as an opportunity to learn without placing blame and to see what happened and how we can prevent another crash from occurring."

Those answers will hopefully lead to solutions. Some--like distracted driving--are already known and are identified in existing public awareness campaigns, but the data could lead to new targeted educational efforts and, in some locations, perhaps even improved infrastructure.

One of the most difficult issues may lie behind one surprising detail in that list of pedestrian deaths. An abnormal percentage--have happened on roads where vehicles shouldn't encounter people on foot--on our freeways. That's unusual.

The task force is building its data base on accident investigations, but they want to hear from the public too. They want to hear about accidents that didn't happen, near misses that point to conditions and issues that put us all at risk.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019