Police work to prevent pedestrian fatalities

RENO, NV (KOLO) The intersection at Pueblo and South Virginia Street is very familiar to Sam Sprague. Not just because he works near there, but he nearly died there crossing the street.

“When my friend screamed I realized I was possibly going to die,” Sprague says. “Somebody hit me with their car and I woke up on the ground with a police officer telling me I was really lucky,” he says.

Thursday, one person is crossing at the same spot where Sam was nearly killed. Unlike Sam, he's looking for people who don't yield to him. He's a Reno Police officer and this is part of the department’s pedestrian enforcement program.

“What you guys will see out there with a couple of cones set back from the crosswalk,” says Lieutenant Scott Shaw with the traffic division. “We set those cones based on a federal data as to how much reaction time a driver would need to recognize there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk, and safely stop,” he says.

Once the clearly-marked officer enters the crosswalk, cars should yield to him. While we were at Pueblo and South Virginia Street, most drivers did just that. But for those who didn't, there are motorcycle officers parked nearby and are alerted to stop and ticket such drivers.

With five pedestrian fatalities so far this year, Lieutenant Shaw says these operations are becoming more critical.

While drivers may bristle at the technique and the ticket, hitting and severely injuring or killing someone while behind the wheel is a whole lot worse.

That's why Sam is grateful for the police presence.

“It would be nice,” he says, “The feeling was you should slow down for pedestrians and it is worth that.”

Reno police issued 49 citations Thursday.

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