Awareness campaign looks to prevent roadway tragedy

If you're like most people, you become horrified whenever you learn a pedestrian has been maimed or killed by a driver while attempting to negotiate a clearly marked crosswalk.

And if you're like most drivers, you become infuriated when you watch another motorist speed past a stop sign or a traffic light without stopping or even slowing down. You become equally enraged to see a bicycle rider ---- in a non-bicycle lane ---- go flying past a stop sign or a traffic light as if the laws of the road were written only for motorists and, hence, do not apply to cyclists.

Appropriately, the message from Kathy Perkins, crime prevention specialist for the Metropolitan Police Department, 9850 W. Cheyenne Ave., was right on target: "Ever feel frustrated that the residents and visitors in your neighborhood don't seem to care about traffic safety? Do they speed? Do they run stop signs? When riding bikes or walking, do they put themselves and others in harm's way? The incidents of traffic risk are endless, and sometimes the results are tragic."

Such occurrences are common in Las Vegas. And perhaps they're more common in Summerlin, where motorists and cyclists often may be of the opinion that suburban driving means less-traveled roads and, consequently, a lesser number of traffic cops, which in turn provides them more of an opportunity to break the law.

It all brings to mind a story that has made the rounds of the motorist who was stopped by a traffic cop after speeding past a stop sign in Summerlin. When the officer began to write a summons, the driver remarked indignantly, "You can't give me a ticket ---- I live here."

So how do you curtail, much less prevent, such road recklessness and the accompanying mind-set, especially when there's an obviously limited number of traffic officers?

That was the question put to a relatively new homeowners association in northwest Las Vegas, and the result was the creation of a community accommodation campaign built around Prevent Any Roadway Tragedy, or PART.

As Brandon Exline explained it, "Our new homeowners association chose to be proactive rather than reactive." Exline is the community manager for the Providence Master Homeowners Association, a 1,200-acre development just north of Summerlin that he said is now 30 percent occupied. When completed, Providence will contain nearly 7,500 one-family homes.

"We are much like Summerlin, in that we will have many open areas," he said. "Last December we opened Knickerbocker Park, which is a large, public recreation facility. And right from the start we wanted to educate homeowners and their guests to traffic and pedestrian safety throughout the area."

That gave rise to PART, which is concerned largely with educating the public to a better understanding of road safety and how to maintain it. Shortly after it was organized, PART received support from the city of Las Vegas and from police departments in Clark County.

Exline stressed that the goal "is to reduce the numbers of fatalities and injuries on community roadways and thoroughfares." He added that its role "begs the question: What small changes can you and your family implement in your daily routine to help keep our streets, sidewalks and trails safe?"

Perkins spoke quite favorably of PART, noting that "it has developed into an important Metro initiative, because the need to communicate traffic safety to the public is very real." She added that she has agreed to serve as a member of PART's newly created traffic advisory task force.

"Metro feels strongly about its role in PART," Perkins said. "We feel it could save lives. In fact, we have produced literature for motorists, bicyclists, motorcyclists, moped riders and pedestrians, pointing out how to follow simple rules of the road. We feel this material could be useful to residents in all communities in Summerlin."

She also noted that "the vast majority of traffic-related incidents is avoidable and totally preventable. People make decisions every day that create unnecessary danger when driving, walking or riding."

Perkins, who serves as a community liaison between the police department and Summerlin neighborhoods, said her role is to promote the safety features advocated by PART. She can be reached at 702-828-4305.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, "All For Nothing," is now available. Contact him at