Memories of being run over by an old-fashioned race car at a young age and seeing a high school classmate being sandwiched between two cars is what led to the start of the Accident Prevention Program in 1973.
Mark DeLouis, founder of the nonprofit organization, has dedicated the program to saving lives through education, traffic analysis and proposed recommendations.
“I’ve always been aware of the dangers on the highway,” DeLouis said. “I started working on different things to prevent critical injuries and deaths on highways. I became an advocate for the well-being of every man, woman and child.”
DeLouis, a World War II veteran, spent almost 30 years as an Internal Revenue Service agent before working on a task force as an investigator of fraud and organized crime with the FBI and Treasury Department agents.
After retiring from the IRS, DeLouis started his organization in Pittsburgh, where he claims to have saved more than 100 lives due to the changes he helped implement.
His daughter Ginny, a former Siegfried & Roy dancer, recalls when her father promised her not to drive on a 2 1/2-mile stretch road on West Carson Street.
“That road had 60 times the national fatality average,” Ginny said. “According to statistics, it killed one person per mile per year. It was known as ‘Death Row.’ ”
With support from his wife and seven children, DeLouis swayed government authorities to reduce a section of West Carson Street in Pittsburgh from four lanes to three.
It is estimated that approximately 40,000 motorists are traveling more safely each day because of DeLouis’ actions, according to the 1986 GEICO Public Service Awards.
DeLouis continued to work hard without pay to identify and correct hazardous sections of the roadway. He also recommended changes to McKees Rocks Bridge in Pittsburgh, which was reduced to three lanes.
DeLouis and his wife of 67 years, Jeanne, moved to Las Vegas in 2011 to live with Ginny.
“He’s done a lot of good through his hard work,” Jeanne said. “I’ve always supported his efforts because I know he’s saved a lot of lives.”
The 95-year-old plans to continue his journey of safety by venturing on a joint effort with Clark County School District police Lt. Roberto Morales. Together, they plan to educate high school students about hazard elimination techniques.
One particular hazard is what DeLouis calls the “pinch effect,” which is when lanes appear spacious but can become dangerously narrow at curves. This is especially dangerous when dealing with trucks and buses that need 2 to 3 feet of extra lane width, according to DeLouis.
He recently started analyzing Las Vegas roads and already has several recommendations in the works.
For example, he said that the corner of Richmar Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard should have a traffic light, and sections of Interstate 15 should reduce the speed limit and include signage to avoid speeding on dangerous curves.
Boxing Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez has been a longtime supporter and friend of DeLouis. His daughter was paralyzed from the chest down after being involved in a car accident 16 years ago.
“The city is growing, so the timing is right for Mark to sit down with engineers and talk about his ideas,” Cortez said. “At the age of 95, he is still going strong. I’ve been by his side to try to help him meet the right folks to discuss solutions that may help prevent future accidents.”
In addition to his work, DeLouis invented a drowsy alarm for drivers that would alert them if they were falling asleep on the road.
“My goal is to correct dangerous situations that are common throughout the country,” DeLouis said. “Sometimes, it’s just a matter of putting a stop sign or traffic lights that can save lives.”
For more information on the Traffic Accident Prevention Program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at email@example.com or 702-383-4686.