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New bill aims to protect pedestrians in school zones


Center for Traffic Safety Research members commonly witness dangerous driving habits when they visit schools to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.

"What we see is parents drop off their kids, and they make U-turns because they want to go back to where they were, but they don't see left; they just see right," said Nadia D. Fulkerson, project director for the group, which formed through a partnership between the University of Nevada School of Medicine and the Nevada Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety. "When you don't see left, there might be a pedestrian crossing in the school zone."

U-turns while students are arriving or departing at schools were banned in school zones as of Oct. 1 under a new state law, Senate bill 144, which took effect Oct. 1. The law also forbids drivers to pass or "overtake" other motorists during those times.

State Sen. Mark Manendo said he has noticed that the start and end of the school days typically become chaotic traffic-wise near the facilities, particularly with parents making U-turns. He said he also sees many instances of illegal parking.

"I've see double parking; I've seen triple parking; I've seen parents actually shut down the entire street," said Manendo, who co-sponsored the bill and is a member of the Southern Nevada Pedestrian Education and Legislation Task Force, which requested the legislation.

Fulkerson also is a member of the group, as is Erin Breen, director of UNLV's Vulnerable Road Users Project. Breen said people have been contacting her to complain about the new restrictions.

"I cannot tell you the feedback I've gotten on this bill," she said.

Manendo said he has heard the opposite.

"The parents I know of said, 'Thank God you did this,' " he said.

Manendo said to alleviate the hazardous conditions in school zones, parents should consider alternative means of transportation, such as walking their children to school. He also said drivers should be more vigilant.

"Hitting a kid at 10 mph could be fatal," he said.

Fines for breaking the new law are the same as a standard moving violation and are set by jurisdiction. In Clark County and the city of Las Vegas, for instance, the fines typically total $191 and can increase to $250 due to added court costs.

Visit medicine.nevada.edu/ctsr or leg.state.nv.us.

— To reach Henderson View reporter Cassandra Keenan, email ckeenan@viewnews.com or call 702-383-0278. Find her on Twitter: @CassandraKNews.