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Safe Community Partnership aims to make roads less dangerous

For 17 years, the Safe Community Partnership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has been working to improve traffic and pedestrian safety in the valley.

Director Erin Breen works with UNLV's Transportation Research Center to help educate the public about new policies and other traffic-related issues.

The Safe Community Partnership is taking an active role in promoting crosswalk safety as a result of a death last year.

Three young girls were struck by a car while crossing Camino Eldorado at Bent Arrow Drive in North Las Vegas. Amelia "Mia" Decker, 6, died three days later.

With the help of the Safe Community Partnership and other community members, the Decker family is trying to raise about $10,000 to install flashing lights to warn drivers when pedestrians are in the crosswalk.

A garage sale fundraiser is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 5975 Clayton St. Proceeds will help the Shine a Light For Mia Fund.

Breen said about $3,000 has been raised so far. Donations also can be made by contacting Breen at 895-1780 or

Breen also wanted to make people aware of the Nevada Department of Transportation's Click It or Ticket campaign, set for May 19 to June 1. The campaign promotes the use of seat belts.

Pushkin Kachroo, director of the Transportation Research Center at UNLV, has been collecting seat belt data for more than two years. He said Nevada is doing better than most in that department.

About 94 percent of Nevadans wear seat belts, he said, compared to the national average of 82 percent.

Still, 50 percent of traffic fatalities are people not wearing seat belts, he said.

"We need to get more aggressive and disproportionately aggressive to people who ignore the message," Kachroo said. "The solution is extremely simple, and the outcome is extremely big. It's just a simple click."

The Transportation Research Center also has a driving simulator that it has taken to casinos and bars to demonstrate how dangerous distracted driving or drunk driving is.

Kachroo said the center is installing sensors around the valley on streets at different intervals and collecting that data to determine travel times. It is similar to the travel time signs on Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95, but this data can be interfaced with a smart phone.

Kachroo said he and his students are developing a phone application that could learn a driver's behavior and synchronize with a database of traffic sensors to determine the quickest route.

The Safe Community Partnership promotes various educational programming, such as those regarding child car seats, senior driver safety, seat belts and more. Breen used roundabouts as an example.

"Roundabouts are a terrific tool," she said. "But if you don't know how to drive them, not so much."

Breen said more intersections in the valley will be getting new lights to signal a yielded left turn. A flashing yellow arrow will replace the traditional round, green ball.

"I think that most people would (understand) it," Breen said. "But some won't get it."

Whether it be through billboards, fliers, commercials or other ways of communication, the Safe Community Partnership aims to educate the public on such issues, Breen said.

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Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 224-5524.