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Southern Nevada is on pace for a record number of pedestrian deaths.
And pedestrian fatalities are on the rise on roads all across Nevada.
A week ago, Erin Breen addressed the Reno City Council on a program that tries to reduce the number of fatalities.
Breen, Traffic Safety Coalition Coordinator at UNLV, is pushing a program called VisionZero all around the state in an attempt to reduce those fatalities.
"Where VisionZero differs from Zero Fatalities, which we have been doing for several years, is VisionZero asks the developers, the planners, the engineers to take a harder look at every single crash to determine how they could have helped prevent that crash from happening,” Breen told KNPR's State of Nevada.
She said the program was established in Sweden 20 years ago. Since it was adopted in that country and the rest of the European Union, the overall number of fatal crashes - not just for pedestrians but for all crashes - dropped by 90 percent.
Breen said 26 cities around the country are implementing the program. New York City has already done so and in the first six months of this year has seen the lowest number of crashes per capita since it started keeping records in 1910.
“There are so many positives to Vision Zero that this concept is something that has to catch on in more places,” Breen said.
Many people are worried that changing roads to make them safer for pedestrians and drivers will cost too much money, but Breen said that is the wrong way to look at it.
“The first thing we always look at is saving lives is expensive," she said, "That’s another place that they’re saying, ‘no you have to look at it differently. What did it really cost you to lose that life?’ In comparison, it is cheap.”
Breen admitted that it is not just the driver's fault or the fault of the road's designer, but pedestrians are also to blame. She said they will often choose not to walk a few hundred feet to cross the street safely.
Erin Breen, UNLV Traffic Safety Coordinator
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