Gorgeous spring days usually mean packed bars, patios and sidewalks in downtown Reno. Not today with the COVID19 virus pandemic keeping people away from public places. Reno Gazette Journal
As more people stay home to adhere to COVID-19 social distancing orders, the Reno Police Department says it has seen a marked decrease in the number of pedestrians hit on area roads.
Prior to when the global COVID-19 pandemic spread to Northern Nevada and stay at home orders were issued, Washoe County was dealing with a scourge of vehicle versus pedestrian accidents and fatalities.
In 2019, 16 pedestrians were killed on Reno’s roadways, making it the deadliest year in at least the last five.
But since social distancing went into effect and nonessential businesses were closed, pedestrian fatalities have all but halted, according to Lt. Scott Shaw, who heads the Reno Police Department’s traffic division.
“Oh, we saw a huge drop off in the last month,” Shaw said.
Pedestrian crashes still happened — about ten of them — but they were less severe, he added. Overall, the number of vehicle crashes in general has also plummeted.
Conversely, Shaw said the less crowded roads have led to faster driving, but so far that hasn’t equated to more deaths or incidents.
The less crowded roads have even led to an uptick in illegal street racing.
“For reasons I don’t understand, (street racers) have not been willing to pay in the social distancing stuff in the last couple of weekends,” Shaw said.
Over the last three weekends, eight people have been arrested and officers have written 41 speed-related citations — all related to street racing. Of those arrests, seven were for suspected DUI and one was for exhibition of speed.
Sam Gross is a breaking news reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal who covers wildfires, emergencies and more. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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