For the fourth consecutive year, the Davidson Academy of Nevada, a public school for profoundly gifted students located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, and University Police Services have received a $24,000 safety grant from the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety. This safety grant will be used to continue implementation of a Pedestrian Safety Awareness campaign on high-traffic streets near campus, an effort they have been pursuing for the past three years. This year's goal is to continue to educate students, faculty and staff and increase safety awareness.
"It takes, on average, 30 seconds to cross the street," Jody Cram, parent advisor at the Davidson Academy who has worked for the past three years on this project, said. "So we need to educate students to take those 30 seconds, lift up their heads and stop using their phones as they cross the street."
Cram said that many accidents happen because people are texting or listening to music while walking and not paying attention to the cars around them.
"I read a local police report where the driver of the car said, 'I didn't know he was there until he was on my windshield,'" Cram said. "Unfortunately, we continue to see many close calls between pedestrians and drivers in the area, usually caused by one or both parties being distracted, often by their cell phone."
These kinds of accidents are why Cram, Davidson Academy students and University police officers work to better pedestrian safety on campus. Their efforts led to this year's theme of "Look Up, Unplug, Stay Safe and W8 2 TXT" (wait to text).
"It's a continued concern for us that motorists and pedestrians stay alert, obey posted speed limits and traffic laws, and use caution while traveling through adjacent roads on or around the University," Adam Garcia, University chief of police services, said. "We are happy to partner with many community organizations and agencies, including the Davidson Academy, to improve pedestrian safety and possibly save lives."
The newest highway safety grant was awarded specifically to conduct the following activities:
- Increase enforcement of pedestrian crosswalk laws and distracted driving.
- Conduct an educational campaign encouraging citizens to use designated crosswalks, refrain from distracted walking (use of electronic devices in the crosswalk), and use other means to walk safely (activating stutter flashes, obeying traffic devices, etc.).
- Work with FOX 11 to film, produce and air a public service announcement specifically geared toward people on and around campus, but the message that will be applicable to all Washoe County citizens.
- Continue to ask students and others to sign a safety pledge, committing to be more attentive pedestrians and/or drivers.
At a Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Forum hosted by University Police Services on campus last April, Davidson Academy students reported more than 800 students, staff and faculty throughout the 2012 grant year had signed a pledge committing to stay safe and alert as drivers and pedestrians. At the beginning of the fall semester, during move-in day on campus, they added about 300 more names to that pledge, and hope to add even more at several events on campus this year.
Pedestrian safety tips include:
- UNPLUG headphones when crossing the street.
- HANG UP your phone until you are out of the crosswalk.
- W8*2*TXT - TEXTING CAN WAIT until you know you are safely across the street. Put distractions away when driving and when crossing the street.
- LOOK UP! Make eye contact with the approaching driver and make sure the driver sees you, before you step off the curb.