Hey, drivers, brush up on road rules as kids return to school

Updated August 14, 2017 - 11:06 am

A new school year starts Monday for most children across Clark County, and motorists should give themselves a little more time getting to work.

Buses filled with students will be joining us on the road after a long summer break. Slow down in school zones and be mindful of the kids and teens who opt to walk or ride a bicycle to campus.

“Drivers need to understand the role they play on the road, especially when it comes to children,” said Erin Breen, head of the Vulnerable Road Users Project at UNLV. “Being in a hurry is a contributing factor to a tragedy.”

While driving around today, remember to stop for bright yellow school buses with flashing red lights and extended arms bearing a “stop” sign, regardless of which direction you’re headed.

Some laws to keep in mind while driving through active school zones: no U-turns, no passing other moving vehicles, obey the directions of crossing guards and come to a complete stop when children are crossing the street.

There were 44 pedestrians fatally struck by vehicles this year across Southern Nevada as of Friday morning, an increase of more than 60 percent from the same point in 2016, Breen said.

“We didn’t hit 44 pedestrian deaths until mid-November last year,” Breen said. “I don’t understand why it’s going up.”

Two girls died after getting struck by vehicles in separate incidents during the last school year.

Jazaya Williams, 15, was using a crosswalk when a Fiat failed to yield near Cimarron Road and Vegas Drive in January. She died from her injuries a week later.

One month later, 11-year-old Jazmin Espana died after she was hit by a Republic Services garbage truck at South Sandhill and East Viking roads.

Additionally, Breen said that at least two school-age boys were critically injured in separate accidents over the past school year.

To stay safe, children should travel with someone they know and stick with a planned route with plenty of sidewalks and marked crosswalks.

“You want the kids to bike or walk to school with a friend because there’s safety in numbers,” Breen said. “There are dangers, but this gives some freedom to kids while learning how to make critical decision-making skills and how to interact with traffic.”

Red Rock road work

It’s no secret that the 13-mile scenic loop is being repaved at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. But, Zack from Summerlin noticed that road crews are “shredding the shrubbery and mangling the metal road markers,” and wanted to know why.

It turns out some plants and dead vegetation had to be removed so that parts of the road could be widened, said John Asselin, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Land Management.

“That process was examined before construction by our biologists, kept to the absolute minimum and permitted by the BLM,” Asselin said. “Red Rock Canyon is a national conservation area, so this process was taken seriously.”

And no need to worry about those mangled road markers. The signs will be replaced, and the maximum speed limit on the road will be 35 mph, Asselin said.

Rest stop closures

Anyone traveling between Las Vegas and Southern California is familiar with the irregular closures of the rest stops along Interstate 15. Tom wanted to know the reason and whether there are plans to keep them open.

The Valley Wells rest areas near Cima Road — between the state line and Baker — frequently closes because of water pump issues, said Terri Kasinga, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans.

The Clyde Kane rest stop just off northbound I-15 near Barstow has similar plumbing problems, Kasinga said. And, construction is expected to wrap up next year on the the Clyde Kane rest stop for southbound I-15.

No changes expected

Dennis from Las Vegas wanted to know whether the Nevada Department of Transportation will widen the two lanes of U.S. Highway 95 that run beneath Interstate 15, noting that it creates a bottleneck for downtown commuters.

“There are no immediate plans to improve this stretch of highway,” NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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