Drivers and pedestrians are dying at an “alarming” rate this year on Southern Nevada roads, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Since Jan. 1, 65 people have been killed in traffic crashes throughout Clark County, or one every 36 hours.
“Right now, 65 families are grieving the loss of their loved ones,” said Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Todd Raybuck, adding 2013 is shaping up to be as bad as last year. “The death toll continues to climb on our streets.”
At an afternoon news conference, Raybuck announced the reinstatement of the Southern Nevada Traffic Task Force — which will team police from Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and the Nevada Highway Patrol — in an effort to curb traffic deaths.
It is the second effort in two months by Las Vegas police to increase its presence on roads and at problem intersections. In March, the department announced a push to monitor intersections with a high frequency of collisions, an initiative that will continue until May 22. Patrol officers are targeting Charleston and Lamb boulevards, and Decatur Boulevard and Flamingo Road.
The resurrected task force will patrol a new area in Las Vegas, Henderson or North Las Vegas every month, Raybuck said.
Areas will be targeted because of high rates of collisions, impaired drivers or complaints about poor driving.
Starting 7 a.m. today , the task force will monitor the Las Vegas Beltway west to Rainbow Boulevard, and South Desert Inn Road to Tropicana Avenue. The stepped-up enforcement ends at 5 p.m.
Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Honea said the task force was inactive for about a year but is converging again with “new energy and new solutions for the same old problems.”
Of the 65 Southern Nevada traffic fatalities in 2013, 37 occurred in the jurisdiction of Las Vegas police, the highest number reported by involved law enforcement entities.
As of early April 2012, 38 traffic-related deaths were reported by Las Vegas police. The year ended with 109 traffic fatalities in the department’s jurisdiction.
The 2012 death toll on the roads represented a serious spike over 2011 for Las Vegas police. That year, 22 traffic-related deaths happened in the first quarter. The total for the year was 72.
Raybuck said many accidents happen because valley drivers are distracted by cellphones and other technology in newer model vehicles. Reducing traffic-related deaths has to be a community-wide effort and starts with good driving habits, he stressed.
“Please slow down,” Raybuck said. “Buckle up. Stop on red. Put the cellphones down. Share the roads with pedestrians.”
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@review journal.com or 702-383-4638.
DEATH TOLL ON SOUTHERN NEVADA ROADS
Law enforcement agencies are stepping up enforcement and patrols to stem the tide of traffic-related deaths. Police departments reported the following number of fatalities for 2013 through Tuesday afternoon:
Las Vegas: 37
North Las Vegas: 2
Nevada Highway Patrol: 26
Source: Metropolitan Police Department