Homeless Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise in Nevada

Statistics show that pedestrian fatalities have increased, and continue to, across the state of Nevada in the past years. Another disturbing trend is that homeless pedestrian deaths, in particular, are also on the rise in Nevada. According to the Reno Police Department (“RPD”), of the seven pedestrian fatalities that occurred in 2022, five of the victims were either homeless or at risk of homelessness. The 2022 number of pedestrian deaths in Reno was nearly doubled from the year prior. Authorities’ reports on the majority of the incidents listed the pedestrian as being at fault for the accident. The RPD reported that most of the victims were crossing outside of a crosswalk or loitering in a roadway and made no effort to move or avoid the car at the time of the accident. Consequently, RPD believes that the victims’ mental health issues may have had some influence on the deadly accidents. 

Notably, the Washoe County Examiner’s Office (WCEO), which is responsible for collecting bodies and determining the cause of death, indicates that suicide is only listed if there is video evidence of a pedestrian intentionally placing themselves in a vehicle’s path. The WCEO further noted that across the state, there was a spike in road suicides (many of which involved homeless or housing-insecure victims) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental Health and Traffic Safety

RPD are addressing the issue of increased pedestrian deaths, particularly those who are on the streets, as one of both mental health and traffic safety. Mental health resources across the state are limited. RPD has instructed its officers to refer pedestrians who are acting erratically to mental health services after being taken to the Washoe County Detention Facility (WCDF) or a local hospital. After an individual is provided with mental health services, law enforcement is unable to track if the services worked and where the individual is located.

Aside from encouraging mental health services, the City of Reno became the first in the state to create pedestrian safety zones. These areas are located where there is a significant amount of pedestrian traffic and are clearly marked, speed limits are lower, and fines are doubled. Additionally, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has undergone road engineering where there has been an increase in pedestrian deaths and is working with cities to identify areas with high foot traffic to create more safety zones. RPD further seeks to reduce pedestrian deaths through enforcement and education, including advising drivers to be cautious in areas with homeless pedestrians and respect others who are sharing the road. 

Discuss Your Accident with Our Lawyers

Pedestrian safety is an issue not just for Nevada, but across the nation. Pedestrians are more at risk in traffic accidents because of serious injuries or death. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a Reno or Las Vegas pedestrian accident, contact the attorneys at H&P Law to find out your rights and obligations under the law. Call us at  (702) 598-4529 to speak with one of our attorneys today.

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