Officers seek to inform of traffic dangers, laws
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UNLV Police Service hold forums to educate university community
In recent months, there has been a major increase in traffic collisions and related fatalities occurring around the Las Vegas valley.
However, UNLV campus police say they are doing everything they can to keep the campus accident-free and as safe as possible.
According to the LVMPD, the highest accident areas are reported to be Lamb Boulevard at Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas Boulevard at Tropicana Avenue, Eastern Avenue at Tropicana Avenue, Flamingo Road at Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue at Koval Lane.
UNLV jurisdiction is considered to be anything that touches the campus property line from Maryland Parkway to Swenson Street on Tropicana Avenue. It continues all the way down Swenson Street to Flamingo Road and over to Cottage Grove Avenue over to Maryland Parkway.
The Shadow Lane campus jurisdiction is West Charleston Boulevard to Shadow Lane over to Bearden Road.
“The only way to have zero fatalities in Las Vegas is to pay attention to the road and avoid any distractions,” said Marilyn Valenzuela, a legal assistant Tramel Law Group, “and if people have been drinking at all, they should not get behind the wheel under any circumstance.”
Valenzuela attributes the rise to lack of focus.
“I have seen an increase in accidents this past year and I assume it is because people are distracted with their phones or are just not paying attention to the road,” she said.
According to a 2012 report by the LVMPD Traffic Bureau, 27 percent of fatal accidents were caused by drivers speeding and 24 percent were pedestrian error.
UNLV police officer Paul Velez worked 20 years in the New York City Police Department before coming to Las Vegas to continue his career. He said he has seen his fair share of civilians in automobile accidents over the years.
“It’s an emotional time,” Velez said. “Nobody leaves their house in [the] morning, afternoon or night, for that matter, expecting to get into an accident.”
“Usually when I get to the scene depending on the severity of the accident the parties involved are usually just trying to make sure they tell you their side of the story and want to make sure the other person is insured,” he said.
Valenzuela said many people may have never been in a car accident and don’t realize the stress and physical pain a fender bender can cause, or worse a severe accident or even a fatality.
“Recovery time depends on the injuries of the accidents,” Valenzuela said. “Some people might need six months of physical therapy to get better and others [may] need surgery and additional pain solutions. Every accident is different and the recovery of a client is the most important part of a personal injury case.”
“We encourage clients to keep treating until they feel better,” she said.
Velez said it’s often difficult to stay detached when responding to calls.
“You can try and remain as impersonal as possible when you arrive on the scene, but it’s hard with this job because you always think about it and then it goes back to your family,” he said. “It really affects you that way.”
UNLV has not experienced a large number of accidents in past years and is one of the safest campuses in the U.S., according to Velez.
UNLV Police Services attempts to have an officer who’s on patrol watch crosswalk areas on Maryland Parkway at all times. Any violators are stopped immediately and cited.
Velez couldn’t stress enough the importance of outreach to the UNLV community and said he tries to encourage students and faculty to get involved as much as they can.
“We serve the campus and we’re more than happy to get involved,” he said
UNLV police officers are trying their best to continue community outreach programs that inform students, faculty and staff of all the things they offer and of any pertinent laws enforced near campus.
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department and UNLV Police Services come together and hold Rebel Roundtable meetings once a month in the Student Union.
Organizers say the meetings offer different tips and campus safety measures that can be followed to provide a better campus experience for everyone.
During the most recent roundtable, officers distributed handouts with current pedestrian laws, explaining that UNLV and the LVMPD follow the same standards.
According to Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) code 484B.283, or pedestrian right-of-way in a crosswalk, vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians in designated areas if there are not official traffic control devices in place already.
Also, pedestrians should not suddenly leave the curb, or another safe place, to walk or run in the path of a dangerously close moving vehicle.
Further, if a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk, another approaching vehicle is not permitted to pass that vehicle and go through the crosswalk area until the rear vehicle determines if they were stopped to let a pedestrian pass.
According to NRS code CCO14.36.030, pedestrians crossing at any point where there is no marked crosswalk must yield to vehicles upon the roadway.
The officers also thought it was important to mention NRS code 484B.417, which regulates signaling. The proper signaling distance to turn either right or left is no less or no more than 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning, though in the event a turn signal has stopped working, drivers are permitted to use hand signals.
Cell phone usage while driving has been a major cause of accidents in recent years, with a Nevada law prohibiting the use of a cellular device while driving, effective Jan. 1.
According to NRS 484B.165, or the cell phone usage law, a person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway in this state while using a handheld wireless communications device to enter text, send or read data, engage in non-voice communication or engage in voice communications without the use of a hands-free device.
Anyone found guilty on the first offense is charged with a misdemeanor and $50 fine. On the second offense, an offender will be charged a $100 fine, while third time offenders are charged a $250 fine.
UNLV Police Services acts as a traditional police department — they are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
They work in close cooperation with the LVMPD. If a crime or accident happens in the UNLV area where backup is needed, the closest officer responds no matter the department.
Velez said police officers seek to aid everyone.
“We are here to help and although we cannot force anyone to take advantage of all of our resources we wish they would,” he said.