Andrea Wilkinson/Nevada Sagebrush
Students cross Virginia Street on Monday, Oct. 22. Multiple pedestrian and car traffic accidents have spurred University Police Services to prioritize pedestrian safety.

In light of recent traffic accidents involving pedestrians and a student being killed, University of Nevada, Reno, Police Services are reminding the campus community about the dangers of distracted driving and walking.  

Assistant Director of Police Services Todd Renwick said the main issue facing the university is drivers and pedestrians are distracted.

“Everybody’s distracted,” Renwick said. “We need people to realize that this is a safety issue, and to rid themselves of distractions weather they are walking or driving.”

The Nevada Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Annual Report gave University Police Services $29,566 to create a public service announcement for the “Pedestrian Safety Project”, in 2017. The PSA was to be centered around pedestrian safety which includes distracted walking and driving.    

Police Services were unable to make a new announcement, but ran past PSAs and raised social media followers to 117. A total of $25,213, 85.28 percent of the budget, was spent, according to the 2017 report. The remainder of the money was used to pay officers overtime, according to Renwick.

“A lot of them [PSAs] entailed don’t be distracted,” Renwick said. “We bought TV stations in to film segments on texting while walking, texting while driving.”

There was no way of measuring the effectiveness of the PSAs, but everyday officers try to educate the university community on pedestrian and driving safety, according to Renwick.

The 2017 report showed 456,399 viewers saw the PSAs, but there are no numbers showing how many viewers were on campus.

UNR Police Services attended the 2018 Nevada Traffic Safety Summit, in Las Vegas, from Oct. 16-18 to discuss traffic issues affecting Nevada such as Vision Zero, impaired driving and problems in Nevada’s drivers education.  

“When we go out and do our enforcements, we don’t do it alone,” Renwick said. “We usually do it combined with other local area law enforcement, so we can have more of  presence. That summit helps prioritize enforcement dates and projects.”

 The 2017 report further showed Reno Police Department issued 589 citations related to pedestrian safety. RPD reported 332 drivers and 100 pedestrians were at fault.  

On Sept. 13, UNR first year student Matthew Sutton was struck on the intersection of Evans and 6th by a car and died in the hospital the following morning. University Police have since then released a statement outlining safety tips on how to cross the road.

Sutton’s death is not the only death that has taken place in recent months in the Reno-Sparks area. A 35-year-old woman crossing the road not in a marked crosswalk when she was hit on Pyramid Way in early October. She later died from her injuries.

“Each life is precious and with this in mind, it is my intent to keep our campus safe,” Assistant Vice President & Director of Police Services, Adam Garcia said in an email on Sept. 13.  


Andrew Mendez can be reached at or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.