Clark County bucks downward trend in traffic deaths

CARSON CITY — Traffic deaths across Nevada declined slightly in 2013 from the prior year, but Clark County remained a dangerous place for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians with an increase in fatalities over 2012.

The Department of Transportation said Thursday that 259 lives were lost on Nevada roads in 2013, a decline of three fatalities from 2012.

But that decrease came at the expense of populous Clark County, where the number of deaths increased by 11 to 183.

The numbers are preliminary but show an increase in deaths related to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, most notably in the county.

There were seven bicycle deaths statewide in 2013, with five of those deaths coming in Clark County for a 150 percent increase over the two reported in 2012.

Clark County pedestrian deaths also rose in 2013, to 51 from 43 in 2012. Motorcycle deaths rose to 39 from 25.

There is at least a short-term trend of increasing pedestrian deaths in the county. The number also rose in 2012, to 43 from 30 in 2011.

“Bicyclist, motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths are unfortunately up this year,” said Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Loy Hixson. “No matter if you’re in a car, on foot or on a bike, always look for each other and share the road. It truly comes down to always focusing on the road and being safe while driving, walking or riding.”

The state Transportation Department has a program called Zero Fatalities to remind drivers and others to be safe on the roads. The five major points of the campaign are always wear a seat belt, don’t drive impaired, don’t drive distracted, stop on red lights and watch for pedestrians.

Nevada traffic fatalities have generally trended down after reaching an all-time high of 432 in 2006.

Nevada traffic and safety advocates continue to put enforcement, engineering, emergency medical and educational strategies in place with the goal of cutting the yearly traffic fatality average in half by 2030. The ultimate goal is zero fatalities on Nevada roads.

New safety measures implemented in 2013 include enhanced signage at both rural and urban intersections, heightened zero tolerance traffic enforcement on Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Primm, initial testing of larger milepost signage for quicker emergency response, and periodic posting of traffic fatality numbers on freeway signs to raise traffic safety awareness.

“Across the state, NDOT and our partners continually work to save lives and prevent serious injury on Nevada roads,” agency Director Rudy Malfabon said. “But we know that reaching zero fatalities relies on everyone. When we think of ourselves, our friends and our family, one traffic death is too many. That’s why it is so important to be safe every time we’re on the road.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.