Wednesday, December 12, 2007

RED means STOP

This first published December 6, 2007 in the Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

One of the first topics to arise with new residents is how much their car
insurance rates have gone up.
Maybe you’ve heard the Las Vegas mantra, “Green means Go,’ yellow means Gas it’ and red means 'Proceed if you can follow the vehicle in front of you.’” OK, that isn’t an exact quote, but it certainly is a fair description of how we drive in the Las Vegas Valley.
Here at the Home News we recognize the seriousness of the problem.
Therefore, last August we teamed up with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Henderson Police Department, Boulder City Police Department, North Las Vegas Police Department, Nevada Highway Patrol and Las Vegas Department of Detention and Enforcement to start a new mantra for Southern Nevada: “RED MEANS STOP.”
Have you ever witnessed an accident caused by a driver who ran a red light? Perhaps you are the unfortunate victim of such an accident. I’ve had a few close encounters with careless drivers in the past couple of weeks.
Last week, while driving north on Grand Canyon Drive, clearly having the right of way, I was preparing to turn left on Patrick Lane when another driver was attempting to turn left from Patrick north onto Grand Canyon. The problem was she was too busy watching the southbound traffic to notice I had entered the intersection to make the left-hand turn. She didn’t take her eyes off the southbound traffic until I honked my horn, and when she looked my way, she slammed on the brakes and shook her hands at me as though it were my fault she was stuck in the lane.
Another annoyance I’ve noticed is the California rolling stop, which isn’t a stop at all. In Nevada it’s considered disregard of a control device or a moving violation. It’s particularly bothersome when the driver is approaching a stop sign, notices you’re in the crosswalk and doesn’t want to wait for you to finish crossing ‹ so he slows, maybe stops, then gases it before you step in front of the vehicle.
These two examples are just irritating to me; however, there are more serious incidences that result in needless death, dismemberment, disability or serious injury.
As of Nov. 1 of this year Metro reports 24,539 collisions, of those 9,843 or 40 percent resulted in injuries. Of those, 1,325 were DUI-related ‹ attributed to alcohol, illegal drugs or even prescription drugs.
So far this year there have been more than 106 fatal collisions reported by Metro Police: 35 were alcohol related. The fatalities included 41 automobile drivers, 15 motorcycle or scooter drivers, 19 passengers, 31 pedestrians and six bicyclists.
Incidentally, 28 of those fatalities were NOT wearing seat belts.
The No. 1 factor in the fatalities, present in 22.3 percent of the deadly crashes, was failure to yield the right of way. The other factors were excessive speed, 17.9 percent; pedestrian error, 17.9 percent; disregard of a control device (stop sign, signal or other sign), 13.4 percent; failure to maintain lane, 13.4 percent; and bicyclist error 1.8 percent.
Now you have an idea of why your car insurance went through the roof when you moved here.
The next time you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, you could literally be dying to get there ‹ or worse killing someone along the way.
Take your time getting home. It will be time worth waiting, not only for you but your family and someone else’s family, too.
One last piece of advice is to wait a second or two before entering an intersection and look both ways even though the light is green. Some people don’t get that “RED MEANS STOP.”

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the News, can be reached at 702-990-2656 or